Kadarius Toney can still turn into a positive asset for the Chiefs offense

With the impending suspension/release of Rashee Rice, an even bigger vacancy has appeared in the Chiefs WR room. Hollywood Brown is the clear #1 for now, but could this former 1st-round pick fill the void?
Buffalo Bills v Kansas City Chiefs
Buffalo Bills v Kansas City Chiefs / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Kadarius Toney was drafted 20th overall in the 2021 NFL Draft by the New York Giants. His lightning-quick agility and jaw-dropping speed made him one of the most sought-after prospects in the draft.

New York's investment seemed to pay off quickly after the young WR had 189 receiving yards in only his fifth NFL start. Two games later, however, he would miss his first NFL game after reaggravating an existing ankle injury. Injuries would plague his time in New York, as he would go on to suffer another ankle sprain, quad pull, abdominal strain, shoulder injury, and a knee tear in only two years with the Giants.

Toney joined the Chiefs in October 2022 after being traded at the deadline for a third-round compensatory pick and a sixth-round pick—a move many thought was genius. Chiefs general manager Brett Veach made the move to grab a talented young player with plenty of years left on his rookie contract.

This sentiment wouldn't last long, however, as Toney would average just over 24 yards per game in his first season. With the expectation of a major leap forward in his second year with the team, things went from bad to worse. Toney would drop two easy completions (both in week 1 and week 15) that turned into interceptions, which ultimately led to him losing the trust of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. He finished the season with 7 straight DNPs (did not participate) and caught more strays from Instagram meme accounts than he did footballs.

However, all hope is not lost. Toney still has the physical tools to write a great comeback story. Let's take a deeper look into how he could contribute to the Kansas City Chiefs offense in the 2024 NFL season.

Kadarius Toney's ceiling remains high

There's a reason Toney was taken in the first round by the Giants back in 2021. Top draft sites had him as a top 5 player at the WR position. His extreme twitchiness and well-above-average playmaking ability made him a high-value prospect leading up to the draft.

Those traits remain in place even today. On Monday of this week, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid spoke to reporters about Toney and praised him as "one of the most talented guys on the team."

The Chiefs WR need is significant

It's no secret that the Chiefs are in desperate need of a wide receiver. While the newly acquired Hollywood Brown and second-year wideout Rashee Rice are both primed for breakout seasons, the depth behind them—Rice's likely suspension (stemming from a vehicle crash in Dallas)—leaves the Chiefs offense with a lot more questions than answers.

Toney has shown that he is capable of becoming a legitimate receiving threat. Check out this play from 2022.

The best part about this play is how Toney shrugs off the contact at the top of the route. This is something he hadn't shown on tape in college, or even during his time in New York. Toney is progressing as a route runner, his athleticism is still there, and if he can get over the mental mistakes, he can become a contributing part of the Andy Reid offense.

Two possible outcomes for Kadarius Toney

There are only two outcomes that can be expected from Kadarius Toney's 2024 season. Either Toney works hard this offseason, regains his confidence with Mahomes, and surpasses his highest-recorded receiving season (420 yards), or he rests on his laurels, fails to spark that connection with Mahomes, and falls out of the Chiefs lineup—just as he did at the end of the 2023 season.

No matter what occurs with Toney in 2024, his mark was already made on the Chiefs dynasty. He will be remembered as the player who changed the momentum of Super Bowl LVII, as he still holds the record for the longest punt return in Super Bowl history.

Toney also seems to be actively trying to improve his game by working out with Mahomes this spring. Let's do what Chiefs fans do best and root for the Chiefs players who need us the most because his success is ultimately our success.