Senior Bowl 2021: 5 defensive NFL Draft prospects NY Giants should scout

Penn State Nittany Lions defensive end Shaka Toney (Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports)
Penn State Nittany Lions defensive end Shaka Toney (Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports) /
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The Senior Bowl is traditionally college football’s premier postseason showcase for NFL Draft talent, and this year will be no different in Mobile, Ala., where the NY Giants and 31 other teams will get an up close and personal look at players hoping to help their stock rise.

For the NY Giants, general manager Dave Gettleman and head coach Joe judge will aim to bolster the overall talent on a defense that took significant strides under first-year coordinator Patrick Graham in 2020, but still has significant needs at outside cornerback, inside linebacker, and pass rusher.

Likewise, if the NY Giants are unable to retain both stalwart defensive linemen Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson, defensive end might be a position this team aims to address, particularly in the later rounds of April’s NFL Draft.

Here’s a look at five defensive players Gettleman, Judge, and the NY Giants should scout during this week’s Senior Bowl practices:

Shaka Toney – DE, Penn State

Size: 6-foot-3, 252 pounds

Career stats: 112 total tackles, 20.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 4 pass breakups

Round projection: Round 2-4

Despite being slightly undersized, Toney is an explosive and high-motor pass rusher who has the ability to be productive either with his hand in the dirt as a defensive end, or standing up as a rotational pass-rushing outside linebacker.

Toney has tremendous bend, which helped him develop into one of the Nittany Lions’ most productive pass-rushers the past three seasons, despite going up against some NFL caliber offensive tackles. He consistently takes smart routes to the quarterback and is flexible enough to spin pass would-be-blockers en route to the backfield.

As a junior, Toney produced a team-high 39 quarterback pressures and Pro Football Focus awarded him an 81.2 overall grade.

Multiple scouts have told GMenHQ that Toney has a legitimate chance to be one of the biggest risers coming out of Mobile this week.

Some teams might view Toney as a project, and he might even have a higher ceiling once he adds some bulk in an NFL offseason conditioning program, but the Giants are a team that could capitalize on his versatility to work him into a rotation in badly need of pass-rush production.