A few days ago I started this series to highlight a few college prospects that may fall into the later rounds. Last time around I took a look Markelle Martin, the free safety from Oklahoma State University. Today I’ll be focusing on Nick Toon, the stand-out wide receiver from Wisconsin.
The Baltimore Ravens don’t have an entirely strong history of drafting successful wide receivers, with last years second round pick, Torrey Smith, probably being the most successful of the bunch. Lately, the Ravens have mostly relied on free agency to acquire targets for quarterback Joe Flacco by picking up Lee Evans at the start of this season and T.J. Houshmandzadeh the year before.
Looking ahead to the start of the 2012-2013 season, a couple of current Baltimore Ravens wide-out’s futures could be in question. Lee Evans could prove to be a salary cap casualty and WR/KR David Reed may not be active at the start of the season due to suffering an ACL injury to his left knee just before the playoffs. If this is the case, the Ravens would be forced to rely upon 2011 4th round pick Tandon Doss and former un-drafted free agent LaQuan Williams to fill in the spots behind Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith.
If the Ravens find themselves in this position, it could be prudent for them to draft another WR this year to grow along with the still relatively young QB, Joe Flacco.
The 2011 All Big Ten Second Team receiver, Nick Toon, is a big bodied receiver with pretty good speed to boot. Here are some of the numbers on Nick Toon:
Height: 6 ft. 2 in. / Weight: 220 lbs / High 40 yard dash time: 4.62 seconds / Low 40 yard dash time: 4.42 seconds
Nick Toon is currently projected to be selected in the upcoming NFL draft between rounds 2-3. Many pundits believe that he is not cut out for becoming a #1 wide out in the NFL, but general consensus is that he could develop into a solid #2 option. What Toon lacks in ‘wow’ factor, he makes up for by being a solid possession receiver. With good hands and size, it is possible that he could be come a solid Red Zone option for a Ravens offense that has struggled in that area over the past few seasons. From about the 20 yard line in, the Ravens have struggled a bit at cashing in and a wide receiver like Toon may be able to boost the TD/FG ratio a little bit.
Here are some of my takeaways from watching a bit of film on the Wisconsin Badger:
- He is a very good route runner. What sticks out most is that he comes back to the ball and attacks the ball while it’s the air.
- He plays as big as he is off of the line. Very physical with opposing DBs against attempted jams with good lateral motion to shake off would be defenders.
- Very good hands and overall good ball control. Most of the time he will catch the ball and bring it immediately into his body, but occasionally will let the ball "hang out".
- He fights for extra yards after initial contact. Has good balance after contact as well and can stay on his feet.
- Although he doesn’t have "elite" speed, he can make plays down field. Very smooth runner after the catch with good open field moves. Also bocks very well down field.
- Struggles at catching some balls away from his body.
- Seems like he tries to catch the ball with his body too often
- His lack of elite speed could prove difficult to beat man coverage in the NFL. He does have enough size and strength to over come some 1-on-1 matches.
- Has struggled with minor, but nagging toe and thigh injuries while in college.
- Wouldn’t contribute to special teams most likely and hard to know if he could thrive in a scheme that favors mostly vertical passing.
Overall, Nick Toon seems like a solid 2nd-mid round option for any team looking to fill a need. In some ways he reminds me of the Ravens’ own wide out, Anquan Boldin. He’s a very physical player that excels at finding soft spots in coverage and making tough catches over the middle. It’s hard to tell if Toon would prove worth while in a system that sees a lot of down field plays, but he seems like he could excel in Baltimore moving the chains and in the Red Zone. He could also provide healthy competition for players like Tandon Doss and LaQuan Williams if the Ravens find themselves without Lee Evans and David Reed next season.
For more information on Nick Toon, please click this link.