Florida's Toney is a potential first-round pick if Bears are thinking wide receiver

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney, here during practice for the January Senior Bowl, could be a target for the Bears on draft day.

    Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney, here during practice for the January Senior Bowl, could be a target for the Bears on draft day. Associated Press

  • Florida quarterback Kyle Trask could be around on the second day of the NFL draft.

    Florida quarterback Kyle Trask could be around on the second day of the NFL draft. Associated Press

 
By Sean Hammond
shammond@shawmedia.com
Updated 4/4/2021 5:38 PM

The evolution of Kadarius Toney has only just begun.

The Florida receiver played quarterback at Blount High School outside of Mobile, Alabama. His first couple years with the Gators in Gainesville, Florida, Toney did a little bit of everything. As a sophomore, he caught 25 passes and carried the ball 21 times. His junior year saw a similar split, although he played in only seven games.

 

Florida coach Dan Mullen said the coaching staff sat down with Toney and told him that his best path forward -- his best path to the NFL -- was to focus on being a receiver.

"I still think his receiver skills are developing," Mullen said. "I really thought he came into his own as a receiver last year."

Toney had a breakout season as a senior in 2020, catching 70 passes for 984 yards and 10 touchdowns. He carried the ball 19 times for 161 yards and a touchdown.

Toney showed off his skills last week at Florida's Pro Day. Other top prospects included Gators tight end Kyle Pitts and quarterback Kyle Trask.

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Pitts is a surefire first-round pick, likely to go in the Top 10. It's uncommon to see a tight end go so high, but Pitts is a matchup nightmare. Trask should be around in the second round and is one of several Day 2 quarterbacks the Bears could be considering.

Toney is a potential first-round pick who could be available to the Bears at No. 20, if they are considering a receiver in the first round. In his latest mock, ESPN's Mel Kiper had Toney going 22nd to the Tennessee Titans. Kiper listed him as the No. 4 receiver -- behind only Alabama's DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle, and LSU's Ja'Marr Chase -- in a tweet Wednesday.

The fact that Toney is relatively raw at receiver should have NFL personnel drooling. The 6-foot, 193-pound Toney is seriously versatile. He knows he needs experience at receiver more than anything else.

"Just running routes," Toney said Wednesday when asked what his regimen looks like. "Lots of reps at it. I haven't been doing it for a long, long time. Make sure that I work on it all the time."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The Bears have a number of needs, including quarterback and offensive tackle. But the future at receiver is unclear. The situation with Allen Robinson will dictate how much of a priority it is. If the Bears determine they aren't going to sign Robinson long-term, or if Robinson says he won't play on the franchise tag in 2021, they would find themselves with a major need at receiver.

Toney could be an intriguing weapon.

"He's a guy you can move to different spots and try to create matchups," Mullen said. "And he's a guy that understands the game more and more and loves the game."

Day 2 QB?: Trask might've had the most impressive 2020 season of any quarterback outside the draft's top five. He threw for 4,283 yards with 43 touchdowns and eight interceptions. It was arguably the best season by a Gators QB ever, and definitely one of the best by a QB not named Tim Tebow.

Trask has been training with 3DQB in California. The training center puts an emphasis on the biomechanics of the quarterback position. Numerous other prominent quarterbacks have trained with 3DQB in the past, including Carson Wentz, Jared Goff and recent Bears free agent signing Andy Dalton.

He gets overshadowed on draft boards by the likes of Clemson's Trevor Lawrence, Ohio State's Justin Fields, BYU's Zach Wilson, North Dakota State's Trey Lance and Alabama's Mac Jones. He and Texas A&M's Kellen Mond are two popular second-round names right now.

Trask is used to being overlooked. He didn't start on his high school team in Manvel, Texas. He was stuck behind D'Eriq King (now the QB for the Miami Hurricanes) on the depth chart.

"To be honest, I'm not too concerned about what other people are saying about me," Trask said. "It's nothing new to me."

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