If you’re a New York Giants fan tired of not having much to root for, it’s time to get excited about Kadarius Toney.
After three weeks of minimal targets and production, the Giants’ first-round pick has taken full advantage of the extra snaps that have come in recent weeks after fellow New York receivers Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton went down with injuries, along with Kenny Golladay this week. In Toney’s last two weeks, his numbers have surged, especially after his incredible game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
Toney finished the fifth game of his NFL career with 10 catches on 13 targets for 189 yards. The 189-yard total was just enough for Toney to break Odell Beckham Jr.’s record for most receiving yards by a Giants rookie in a single game, topping the previous high by four yards.
Though the rookie was ejected for throwing a punch late in the game, there was a lot to like from Toney all game. First, and perhaps most noticeably, his ability to generate yards after the catch. Of his 189 receiving yards on the day, 91 of them—almost half—came after the catch. Toney’s elite-level quickness and evasiveness deserve the credit there, as the rookie receiver shed three tackles—and if he managed a fourth, would’ve scored his first NFL touchdown—on his 10 catches. It felt like every time he had the ball in his hand, he was going to make something happen, whether on a juke or simply turning on the afterburners to split a few defenders.
Some other sides of Toney’s game on display were his route-running and creation of separation off the line of scrimmage and beyond. On that same near-touchdown play, the rookie ran a beautiful out-route, planting his left foot inside before pivoting and pushing back outside for two steps, completed the catch, then planted his other foot to pivot and explode back inside and split away from three defenders. Drawing the safety toward his inside release was a perfect move to get the space he needed to both complete the catch and break the tackle to pick up more yards. Yet that wasn’t even his best route of the game.
That honor goes to the play that really had NFL Twitter talking.
With Trevon Diggs—the NFL’s leader in interceptions—trailing him, Toney put the cornerback in a spin cycle. What you can’t see in that clip is that the rookie got in front of Diggs after the defender was jamming him at the line of scrimmage. He got off the line quickly then created a gap that Diggs needed to close, which gave Toney the ability to make a better move further downfield to make the throw for Mike Glennon easy. It was an incredible route that prevented the corner from having any chance to make a play on the ball, and with Diggs being that cornerback there, that’s essential.
Finally, Toney had several opportunities to show off how good his hands and spatial awareness are on Sunday. He made a couple of incredible catches on the near sideline on passing downs, twice leaping up over defenders and keeping his feet and body in bounds to make big gains for a first down.
Toney has shown that he has the tools to generate yards by using both his hands and his feet. On deep 50-50 ball receptions, he can be trusted to go up and get it (and stay in bounds), while on shorter ones, he’s got the athleticism to generate extra yards with his speed and agility.
Sunday’s matchup with the Cowboys was the breakout game he needed to prove his worthiness as a first-round pick, especially crucial with his extra snaps while Shepard and Slayton missed time. Minus the punch, I liked what I saw from Toney in this Sunday’s game, and we should be seeing a lot more of it in the weeks (and maybe years) to come with his catching ability and pure athleticism.