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Giants
NFL

Can Giants Use Wan’Dale Robinson, Kadarius Toney Together?

  • Jack McKessy
  • May 9, 2022
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One of the most shocking picks in the New York Giants’ 2022 draft class was the selection of Kentucky WR Wan’Dale Robinson in the second round. It wasn’t shocking because he isn’t a good player. It’s just that Robinson and current Giants receiver Kadarius Toney are similar kinds of players, and New York will either have to navigate using both players together effectively or move on from one of them.

Just looking at both receivers, it’s easy to immediately draw similarities with their physical statures. Both Robinson and Toney are on the smaller side—neither receiver is taller than six feet and both weigh in around 180-190 pounds. There are also plenty of similarities in the way each receiver plays. Both of them are slot receivers that rely on their initial quickness and straight-line speed—rather than their size or length—to succeed on the field.

About a week before the draft, rumors began to circulate that the Giants were thinking of trading Toney, their 2021 first-round pick. The basis of the rumors were concerns about his character and attitude, especially after he skipped the team’s voluntary workouts earlier in the offseason.

That decision after a relatively rough rookie season could have been enough to convince the new regime of general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll to start shopping the former first-rounder.

Toney struggled to be a consistent contributor for New York in 2021, getting just 14 targets in his first four games before breaking out against the Cowboys in Week 5. That strong performance in Dallas—10 catches for 189 yards—was quickly overshadowed by his ejection from the game after throwing a punch at Cowboys defensive back Damontae Kazee.

Toney failed to reach that level of success again for the rest of the season. He missed seven games due to injuries last year and never again caught more than seven passes or surpassed 100 receiving yards in a game. Toney also finished his rookie season without a single touchdown reception.

Though his numbers didn’t pop on the stats sheet after one year in the NFL, there’s no question that Toney has plenty of potential. His performance against the Cowboys alone—in the box score and on film—indicated as such. The real uncertainty is whether he’ll be able to perform at that level more consistently.

That big question is why the Giants’ decision to take Robinson, a similar style receiver, in the second round could be a sign that the new regime is ready to move on.

Yet almost immediately after drafting Robinson in the second round, Schoen downplayed any rumors about trading Toney. Instead, he suggested that having multiple guys with similar skill sets only makes the Giants a stronger team.

If Daboll can replicate the success he had in Buffalo with another similar-sized receiver, Isaiah McKenzie, with Toney and Robinson, Schoen won’t be wrong. McKenzie is another 5-foot-8 receiver who lines up either outside or in the slot and uses his speed to win matchups off the line of scrimmage.

It’s very likely that the Giants’ new head coach saw some of McKenzie’s skill set in Robinson, and the latter will probably fill a similar role in New York’s offense. Daboll liked to put McKenzie in motion to run jet sweeps, putting the ball in his hands and letting him make plays with his speed and explosiveness.

Robinson can also play inside and out and has plenty of upside in the run game too. He had experience participating as a runner in college at both Nebraska and Kentucky, so that hybrid-type role would almost certainly continue under a coach like Daboll.

Toney only has a year of NFL experience under his belt, and as a former first-round pick with so much potential, it’s hard to believe Daboll won’t try to keep him around and get him producing. That means Robinson likely isn’t Toney’s immediate replacement. If anything, drafting Robinson might push another receiver like Darius Slayton off the roster.

Daboll was able to find roles for two small-bodied receivers—Cole Beasley and McKenzie—in Buffalo, so he’ll look to play out a similar situation in New York with Toney and Robinson. We’ll have to wait to see how he does it. One possibility is having Toney in a more traditional slot receiver role while Robinson gets more touches on screens, jet sweeps, and maybe even other run plays to get the ball in his hands.

That said, if Toney can’t get going in Year 2, Robinson may end up being his replacement in the long run. For now, though, expect both pass-catchers to have a role in the Giants’ offense in 2022.