With its penultimate selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Washington Football Team opted to add some depth to a position that is already a strength by drafting defensive end Shaka Toney out of Penn State.
To some, that pick not seem like much of a big deal. However, according to fellow Penn State defender Micah Parsons -- who just went No. 12 overall to the Cowboys two days earlier -- Washington may have found a hidden gem in the late rounds once again.
Prior to Washington selecting Toney, Parsons question how he was still available in the first place.
Given that Parsons is considered to be one of the best defensive talents in the draft, his endorsement of his former teammate is definitely a positive takeaway for Washington. Toney himself believes in his ability to make an impact, and all he was asking for was a chance.
Washington has given him just that and his draft positioning in the seventh round could add more fuel to his fire as he enters the next level.
Toney is coming off a really strong finish to his collegiate career as he put together a solid body of work in nine games during the 2020 campaign. Recording 31 tackles and a team-leading five sacks, Toney was named an All-Big Ten First Team selection.
Those five sacks were good enough for fourth in the Big Ten, making him one of the more impactful players in the conference.
Besides physical abilities, one thing that Washington needs in all of its players is high character. Ron Rivera, Martin Mayhew and company have made that a major focus. Toney fits that mold, as he was a team captain for the Nittany Lions for the 2020 season.
He also fits Washington's trend of adding speed through the draft, something that has become common over the last three days. Toney ran an impressive 4.5 40-yard dash at his Pro Day. Given his 6'3", 240-pound frame, that definitely qualifies as speed.
As for what his role in Washington could be, being slightly undersized doesn't help Toney as he moves to the next level, and neither does the fact that Chase Young and Montez Sweat are in front of him on the depth chart. Still, Toney can earn some playing time in Washington.
Most projections believe his best route to the field comes with special teams, as that speed and tackling ability will make him a valuable asset in that phase of the game.
Depending on how Washington addresses depth at the defensive end position entering training camp, Toney could be someone that has a chance to make an impact there as well.
Last year Washington found starting talent toward the end in Kam Curl, and based on Parsons' assessment of Toney, there's a chance it could happen again in 2021.