Shaka Toney, not Jayson Oweh, was Penn State’s best pass-rusher heading into the NFL Draft.
Penn State EDGE Jayson Oweh has been getting plenty of first-round buzz this 2021 NFL Draft cycle, and it’s easy to see why; he’s a well-built 6-5 252 pounds (with plenty of room to add more muscle) with legendary athleticism, including legit 4.3 speed. The problem is that Oweh’s tape doesn’t show the dominant rusher that one would expect from physical talent.
In fact, Oweh’s line-mate, Shaka Toney, performed the way that Oweh was supposed to. Toney is not nearly the same level of prospect, but he’s a very underrated player, who could have a bright NFL future ahead of him in the right situation.
Looking at Shaka Toney’s NFL Draft profile
Toney was more productive than Oweh, although Toney’s stats aren’t that of a top prospect. He logged 21 sacks over his four seasons and collected pressures at a respectable 13% rate. Nothing to write home about, but nothing bad either.
While Toney may not be the twitchiest EDGE, he has a good combination of burst and bend that allows him to easily get the arc against opposing linemen. His 6-foot-3 250-pound frame could be improved upon, but potentially at the cost of some explosion. Size is his biggest weakness, and contracting COVID-19 after the season ended did not help things; he weighed in at 238 pounds at the Senior Bowl, which is not what you want from an end. He’ll also turn 24 during his rookie season, which takes him out of any type of early-round consideration, no matter how good his tape and athletic traits were to be.
Provided that Toney did play at 250 pounds, that size is not ideal, but it’s not a death sentence, especially if he were to play in a 3-4 scheme. Moving to WILL linebacker is an idea that has been floated around, and while that could be a possibility, but there are issues with that approach; he has very little experience play off-ball linebacker, and although he put up some solid reps in Senior Bowl practices, he did not look natural dropping into coverage during games. That is a transition that will take time, and it wouldn’t allow him to rush the passer nearly as much, or in the same way; his game tape is much better when he has a hand in the dirt as opposed to standing up.
While Oweh got the attention from draftniks, Toney was who opposing teams were worried out. He was constantly double-teamed and chipped, and often times that didn’t prevent him from affecting the play. Toney wasn’t just a designated pass-rusher in college; despite his size disadvantage, he held up well against the run for the most part, although he did have some trouble against Ohio State’s tight ends in 2020.
How does Toney’s skillset transition to the NFL?
Is Toney an every-down base end in the NFL? Likely not. Can he be an effective rotational player in multiple fronts? Absolutely. Teams that prefer bigger, stouter lineman will likely not be interested in Toney, but modern defenses that don’t pigeonhole themselves into a single look will see what Toney can offer.
His stock is extremely inconsistent depending on where you look. Here are his rankings on just a few big boards:
CBS Sports – 132
Pro Football Focus – N/A (7th round/undrafted free agent)
The Draft Network – 212
Pro Football Network – 239
To this writer, Toney has the combination of burst, bend, and quality film to make him a late Day 2 or early Day 3 selection, even with his less than ideal size and age in this EDGE class. NFL teams can never have too many quality pass-rushers, and that’s exactly what Toney was in college.