PROSPECT SUMMARY - SHAKA TONEY
Shaka Toney projects as a rotational designated pass rusher at the NFL level. Toney has very good quickness and release off the snap of the football and pairs it with a try-hard attitude and motor in order to guarantee he’ll find himself in second and third effort situations as a defender. Toney has enjoyed a fruitful career at Penn State and the program’s disappointing 2020 campaign wasn’t even enough to slow his production—he entered the year as the “other” pass rusher opposite Jayson Oweh, just as he entered 2019 as the “other” pass rusher opposite Yetur Gross-Matos. But, like in 2019, Toney has outperformed his fellow rusher and provided more consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks in 2020. Toney’s challenge as an NFL prospect is a common one. If you’re able to stack some additional weight onto his frame, you may feel more comfortable with his every-down forecast. But if you do so, does it come at the expense of his dynamic quickness off the line of scrimmage and his flexibility to win around the edge? These are questions that his future NFL team will have to answer before deciding when to prioritize him in the NFL draft process. One thing is for certain either way: This dude can rush the passer.
Ideal Role: Designated pass-rush specialist.
Scheme Fit: Wide-9 defensive front.
Written by Kyle Crabbs
Games watched: Pittsburgh (2019), Michigan (2019), Ohio State (2019), Indiana (2020), Ohio State (2020), Iowa (2020)
Best Game Studied: Indiana (2020)
Worst Game Studied: Ohio State (2020)
First-Step Explosiveness: This is Toney’s best quality. There’s a lot of twitch and burst to his game and he’s done well to keep his explosiveness as he’s molded his body over the course of his collegiate career. Toney wins with a dynamic first step and gains ample ground at the snap, often winning edges quickly and dipping the inside shoulder to reduce and win with speed rushes.
Flexibility: Toney offers very good lean and coil throughout his frame—body control is effective to play with low pads and carry speed and pace through his turns as a rusher off the edge. There’s good ability to open rotationally from the hips, allowing him to greet hands of pass rushers while subsequently keeping his upfield momentum as a rusher.
Hand Counters: The go-to counter move here is a chop to drop the hands of opposing tackles and accelerate through the corner. He should be able to find the ability to collapse some tackles with speed to power conversions, but that is going to have to be a matchup-specific strategy—he’s barely 250 pounds, and as a result, he’ll struggle with power tackles to keep them from sitting on the outside edge. Continuing to add inside secondary counters will be needed to keep him dynamic and have enough pitches to keep power tackles guessing.
Length: Toney has sufficient length to greet initial punches effectively, but his power dynamics up top do not meet the high standard his get-off does and he struggles to play with any consistent push or resistance at full extension. Once he’s given up his chest, the rep is generally over—not a lot of recovery ability throughout his wingspan.
Hand Power: Strike power throughout his hands isn’t going to help him in high-traffic areas. If he’s faced with double teams or forced to try to collapse the edge and force a ball carrier to bounce, you won’t find a lot of success here. He’s been handled at times by opposing tight ends, a troublesome note for anyone looking to build out a full-time resume for him on the field.
Run Defending: Toney is at his best against the run pressing to the mesh point and playing in space on the edge. His athleticism will allow him to flash and attack the mesh point effectively if he’s being read on the perimeter. There’s enough quickness for him to crash down off the backside as an unaccounted defender and ruin the numbers game to the frontside of the play. But stacking blocks and shucking to engage ball-carriers at the point of attack isn’t likely in his future.
Effort: I love the effort and energy he plays the game with. With his quickness and athleticism, his effort proves critical, as it brings him back into contention to make plays that simply aren’t there on the first go. His off the field work ethic is admirable as well. Toney adopted a strict overnight eating plan to help him maintain strength and weight gains while observing Ramadan and the required fasting.
Football IQ: Toney has a good read on opposing tackles out of their stances and does well to dial up pressure with snap anticipation. His play has continued to trend upward over his time in Happy Valley and he’ll leave Penn State as an accomplished pass rusher who should be able to win with translatable traits in the NFL. He will, however, need to work on decoding how to defeat blocks at the point of attack in order to further level up his game—he thrives in space.
Lateral Mobility: Fluidity in space is a big win for him along the line of scrimmage. Toney has the quickness to dip and duck inside of oversetting tackles who will bail to compensate against his quickness. There’s good acceleration laterally out of flat-footed stances too, so he can press outside and string out perimeter runs if he’s caught pressing up the field.
Versatility: This is a wide-9 end almost exclusively. He’s not been exposed to any snaps of substance as a stand-up LB who drops and he’s not going to have success in more tight alignments with his strike power. He’ll thrive playing outside-in and having the benefit of outside contain from his alignment at the snap. From there, let him thrive on third downs and he’ll find plenty of niche success in the pros.
Prospect Comparison: Josh Sweat (2018 NFL Draft, Philadelphia Eagles)
TDN Consensus: To Be Determined
Kyle Crabbs: 77/100
- Feb 07, 2023
- Feb 07, 2023