2021 NFL Draft Profile: Penn State Defensive End/Linebacker Shaka Toney

By Matthew Filipovits on April 28, 2021 at 10:10 am
Oct 5, 2019; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions defensive end Shaka Toney (18) reacts during the first half against the Purdue Boilermakers at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports
© John Jones-USA TODAY Sports
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Shaka Toney has been a consistent presence for Penn State for five years, blossoming into a great all-around defensive end who is athletic enough too play linebacker at the next level. A strong Pro Day likely did wonders for his draft stock and may have catapulted him into a late second/early third day selection.

Shaka Toney
Shaka Toney
Position: Defensive End/Linebacker
Height/Weight: 6'3/242 lbs.
Hometown: Philadelphia (PA)
Recruiting Ranking: ★★★(0.8498)
Strengths At a Glance: Speed, Pass Rushing, Run Stopping
Weaknesses At a Glance:  Coverage, Consistency

Career Summary

Shaka Toney came to Penn State as a project and Sean Spencer and John Scott Jr. did a great job developing him into one of the most feared pass rushers in the Big Ten. He played sparingly throughout his first few seasons in Happy Valley but broke out with a game against Indiana that saw him register four sacks in the game's final six minutes - tying a program record for most sacks in a game.

Toney Career Stats
  Games Tackles Tackles for Loss Sacks
2017 12 20 6 4
2018 13 33 7.5 5
2019 13 41 6.5
2020 9 31 7.5 5
TOTAL 47 115 29.5 20.5

He took over the starting job during the 2019 season and didn't disappoint, logging a defensive-line high 41 tackles and finishing second on the team in sacks with 6.5. He's not the biggest guy, but he routinely used his great speed and technique to get around offensive linemen. He earned Second-Team All-Big Ten honors from the Big Ten coaches for his performance.

Paired with fellow 2021 Draft entrant Jayson Oweh, Toney was one of the few bright spots in what was a horrible 2020 season for Penn State. In just nine games, he set a new career mark for solo tackles (21) while leading the team in sacks and ranking No. 2 in tackles for loss. He was named first-team All-Big Ten for his performance and finished his Penn State career with 20.5 sacks, good for eighth all-time.

Strengths

Speed...Good tackler who knows how to stay low...Great technique...Relentless motor...Quick to realize when to get his hands up...Strong career on special teams

Weaknesses

Size (if teams want him as a defensive end)...Little experience dropping back in coverage (if teams like him as a linebacker)...Lacks consistency getting to the passer (7 of his 20.5 sacks came in two games)

Summary

Shaka Toney has a chance to be one of the most versatile players taken in the mid-rounds of this draft. His play as an edge rusher at the college level makes him an attractive prospect, but it's the work he did as a linebacker at the Senior Bowl that takes him up a notch. He'll find success as an end in a 4-3 scheme but will need to add a bit more weight to latch on with a team for a long time. He's probably best suited as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 and while he'll need some time to refine his coverage skills in that case, could easily be a starter for a playoff-caliber team for multiple years.

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