The Chiefs entered the 2022 season with a questionable wide receiver room. After trading Tyreek Hill to Miami, Kansas City was looking for JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Mecole Hardman to help fill in the star receiver’s absence and give Patrick Mahomes room of steady goals.
In mid-October, the Chiefs decided to add another name to the mix. Kansas City sent third- and sixth-round picks to the Giants in exchange for Kadarius Toney, the 20th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
There was a lot of uncertainty about what to expect from Toney in the Chiefs’ offense. Toney had come out of Florida to a lot of hype for his explosive play-making ability, his talent gaining yards after the catch, and his versatility. However, Toney didn’t fully realize that potential while in New York, finishing his rookie year with just 420 receiving yards in 10 games after missing several contests on the COVID-19 list. In 2022, Toney dealt with a hamstring injury that cost him weeks 3 through 7 before being traded to the Chiefs.
Everyone wondered what Toney could do when he was getting passes from Mahomes. How has his 2022 season been since he was acquired by the Chiefs? The Sporting News dives into the impact of him.
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Kadarius Toney stats
Statistics 2022: 21 receptions, 207 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns, 8 carries, 96 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown
Toney’s numbers on the card didn’t stand out as much as some might have expected when he arrived in Missouri. Before being traded to Kansas City, he caught two passes for zero yards in two plays. Since the trade, he has caught 14 passes for 171 yards with two touchdowns.
He had two overtime games during the regular season. Against the Jaguars in Week 10, he caught four passes for 57 yards and a touchdown, and rushed twice for 33 yards. In Week 17, against the Broncos, he again collected four catches for a season-best 71 yards. When the Chiefs faced the Jaguars in the playoffs, he caught five passes—most of the year—for 36 yards.
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Toney didn’t have a blowout game for the Chiefs in 2022. His last notable performance came in 2021 with the Giants against the Cowboys in Week 5 of the 2021 season. That week, he caught 10 passes for 189 yards, setting a career high Giants rookie in receiving yards. Twice that season, he caught four-plus passes, recording six for 78 yards in Week 4 and seven for 40 in Week 11.
Part of Toney’s strength coming out of college was his ability to break up tackles and gain yards on catches, with questions surrounding his ability to hit deep runs. The Chiefs decided to try and get the ball to him fast and in close quarters situations. In 2021, 20.7% of his goals came from 10 yards or beyond. With the Chiefs, he’s down to just 13.6%.
Toney saw 45.5% of his targets behind the line of scrimmage and 40.9% between zero and nine yards beyond the line, per PFF. Over his 10 catches behind the line, he averaged 8.4 yards a catch per reception with two forced forced tackles. His 10 receptions from zero to nine yards in front of the line saw him average 7.0 yards after catch per reception with three forced missed tackles.
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Why do they just want to give him the ball? Because he can play games like this when he wears it.
Kadarius Toney added more than just an elusive presence to KC’s offense. Play PHYSICALLY. He wants to punish defenders and that feeds the team. I love the effort here pic.twitter.com/4MHCLLLmAfI
— Daniel Harms (@InHarmsWay19) January 23, 2023
Both of his receiving touchdowns came on passes behind the line of scrimmage. Here’s a look at his first career touchdown, which came against the Jaguars in Week 11:
Kadarius Toney in his last game against Jacksonville
more than that please pic.twitter.com/jf7CL1cg1H
—Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) January 19, 2023
And his second touchdown, which came on a touchdown jet sweep against the Seahawks:
Toney time in KC.
—NFL (@NFL) December 24, 2022
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Each touchdown happened differently. On the first touchdown, Toney is essentially a control path receiver after he cuts down the field with a sweep and the defense loses track of him. The second score is just trying to take the ball in his hands and allow him to fight through the defense.
Kansas City’s desire to allow him to play is why he rushed five times for 59 yards and one score from his trade. This season, he is averaging 6.25 yards after contact on a carry attempt with seven forced forced tackles. All but one of his five carries with the Chiefs have turned into first downs, and three of those five carries have gone for more than 10 yards.
Toney wasn’t used as much as some might have imagined when he was traded, but his use up front was almost always productive. According to PFF, his 83.8 offensive rating ranks fourth among the Chiefs behind only Travis Kelce (91.4), Mahomes (91.2), and Creed Humphrey (89.9). No other wide receiver is above Smith-Schuster’s 70.4 grade (10th on the team).
Toney has the potential to be a prolific weapon for Kansas City. And by facing the Bengals in the AFC championship and potentially facing the Eagles or 49ers in the Super Bowl, he’ll have a chance to prove how much of a big gun he can be in the biggest games of the year.