Inside 1925 Giants Drive, they close their eyes and open their imaginations to how and why a healthy Kadarius Toney can take the league by storm.
As a rookie first-round draft choice, Toney too often seemed like a fish out of water, a guarded babe in the NFL woods from Eight Mile, Ala., whose social media feathers were too easily ruffled. There were times when you wondered whether Yung Joka — his rap alter ego — would prove to be a cruel joke on then-general manager Dave Gettleman.
Toney’s rare talent, a growing bond with his teammates, a growing comfort in the building and on the field thanks to the arrival of new head coach Brian Daboll and a new culture are changing the narrative from lightning rod to lightning in a bottle.
“The way he can make people miss with the ball in his hands, it’s hard to really compare him to anybody,” Kenny Golladay told The Post. “You do have like Tyreek Hill, but he’s get it and go. A guy that’s just speed. KT’s a little bit of both but he has the ability to really make someone miss in a phone booth.
“I don’t think you can really compare him to anybody else in the league.”
I asked Golladay to compare Toney’s elusiveness to rookie Wan’Dale Robinson’s.
“Wan’Dale’s elusive, but there’s a difference between KT elusive and Wan’Dale elusive,” Golladay said. “Wan’Dale’s a little bit like shifty as far as like one-step quickness. KT got a lot of wiggle to him, I’m not gonna lie.”
Toney is showing his teammates and coaches that football is important to him.
“Asks questions when needed,” Golladay said. “What I will say is he holds himself to a certain standard. Everyone’s not perfect, but I know and I’ve seen, when he messes up a play, he gets down on himself more than any coach can really get down on him. That’s just the type of expectation he has for himself.”
Toney was limited during the offseason and underwent arthroscopic knee surgery, but he’s a quick study with a high football IQ.
“Once you get on that field, this is the only thing that matters. That comes out of people that really care about the game of football,” Golladay said. “And you can tell that about him. Like I said, just by making a mental error and he comes back to the sideline, and you care, you care if you made that mistake. That shows a lot right there. If you’re getting mad about that, and it’s only Day 3 and it’s just one little play, I’m good with that, because you give a s–t.”
And players recognize real.
“He’s one of them guys that once you get to really know him, once you’re around him, you realize how down to earth he is,” Xavier McKinney said. “He’s a very likeable guy, somebody you love to be around. He’s a competitor, I know that. He’s one of them guys that when you’re going to war you want to take him with you. We love him.”
Golladay: “I would just say a guy that comes in smiling all the time.”
Golladay can be a good mentor for Toney.
“I would say just bear with him,” Golladay said. “He’s more than what people think.”
And it sure sounds as if Toney will benefit from the coaching change from Joe Judge to Daboll.
“We’re just really getting started, but definitely changed the culture around here as far as just the whole energy,” Golladay said. “Makes you want to be around the building. Makes you want to be inside of the building, not in the building looking at the clock seeing when it’s time to go.”
Incorporating a Yung Joka song at practice was a nice touch by Daboll.
“I appreciate them for doing it because it shows the willingness to build a relationship with me,” Toney said.
Neither Toney (39 receptions, 420 yards on 57 targets) nor Golladay (37-521) caught a TD pass last season. If they can stay on the field, that will be impossible to replicate in the Daboll offense.
“I love it, man,” Golladay said. “It’s a very receiver-friendly. Once we get everything down, I think we can do some very special things.”
Toney likes the route-running flexibility and freedom.
“It gives a chance to win instead of having to do it a certain way every time,” he said.
The Age of Kadarius is coming.