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NFL Draft

Shaka Toney: 2021 NFL Draft Prospect Interview Series

  • The Draft Network
  • March 25, 2021
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The 2021 NFL Draft is loaded with talented edge defenders ready to make an immediate impact at the next level, and Penn State’s Shaka Toney is among the best in the class. Toney didn’t always receive the bulk of national attention when it came to edge rushers at Penn State, but he routinely outperformed his counterparts.

An exciting prospect who can get after the quarterback thanks to his dynamic quickness and flexibility to win the edge, Toney recently spoke exclusively with The Draft Network about his impressive career for the Nittany Lions, his experience at this year’s Senior Bowl, his pass-rush arsenal, and what kind of player he’ll be at the next level.

JM: You capped off an impressive collegiate career with a strong season in 2020. How do you look back on your time at Penn State?

ST: It was a huge blessing. I was very fortunate to form so many great relationships throughout my time there. I made so many friends. I met a lot of people that I’ll continue to root for. I have nothing but good things to say about the program. I couldn’t be happier about my time there.

JM: Do you have a favorite moment in a Penn State jersey?

ST: I would probably have to go with the Fiesta Bowl win over Washington. Seeing the confetti fall from the ceiling was an incredible feeling. It was the type of moment that makes you want to chase winning for the rest of your life.

JM: That’s great. What can you tell me about the scheme that Penn State ran on defense, and what your coaches asked of you within the shape of their defense?

ST: We were a base 4-3 defense. We attacked downhill. Whatever my coaches asked of me, I was happy to do it. I pride myself on being available, ready, and willing to help my team and my coaches in all aspects of the game. Whatever they ask me to do, that’s what I’m going to do.

JM: That makes sense. What’s your favorite part of playing the EDGE position?

ST: Honestly, I love stopping the run. It’s a grown man’s game down there in the trenches. Some players aren’t built for it. It takes a certain kind of player to stuff the run. I’m that kind of player. It takes more “want to” than it takes skill.

JM: I love that. While I appreciate your willingness to get your hands dirty in the run game, I want to talk about your pass-rush arsenal. What can you tell me about that?

ST: I love converting speed to power. I have a nice chop-dip-and-rip. I can use a straight speed rush and turn the corner. I have a nice inside swipe. I love a good inside move. I have a great counter spin when I need to use it. Anything else, I love learning how to do it. I have a nice stab-club. I really feel like I’m just scratching the surface of my potential when it comes to playing this position.

JM: That’s a great answer. You competed in this year’s Senior Bowl. What was that experience like?

ST: That was a great experience. I got to play a new position. I had my ups and downs but I thought I handled it well overall. I honestly had a lot of fun out there.

JM: What do you think is the overall impression that you left on the teams out there?

ST: I think every team left the Senior Bowl saying that Shaka Toney is willing to do anything to help the team.

JM: One of the bigger question marks surrounding your game is whether or not you can add some weight to your frame in an attempt to become an every-down player without sacrificing your dynamic quickness and flexibility that you use to win off the edge. How do you typically respond to that?

ST: I played the entire 2020 season at 250 pounds. I don’t think it should be a concern anymore. I’ve already proved that I could put some weight on and continue to play the game the same way I’ve done in the past. Whatever a team wants me to do, I’ll do it. You have to be able to adapt and adjust. I’m somebody that can do that.

JM: Earlier, you talked about playing a new position at the Senior Bowl. We saw you do some creative things on the field in Mobile. You played some man coverage against tight ends which isn’t something Penn State asked you to do. I thought you handled yourself well. Have NFL teams asked you about potentially playing off-ball linebacker at the next level?

ST: Teams have definitely asked me how I felt about it, yeah. My response to them is always going to be the same thing that I’ve been saying. If that’s what you want me to do, just let me know. It’s that simple for me. I’m a football fanatic at the end of the day. I love football. If I have to learn a new position, I’m gonna keep at it until I’m an expert at it.

JM: That’s a terrific answer. Who are some of the best offensive tackles you’ve ever had to play against?

ST: I have to show some love to my guy Ryan Bates. He was a teammate of mine at Penn State. He’s with the Buffalo Bills now. He beat up on me a lot in practice when I was a young guy (laughs). 

The guy from Nebraska this past season, he wore No. 76 [Brenden Jaimes]. He was really good. He has my utmost respect. Jon Runyan Jr., I played against him at Michigan. He was pretty good. Thayer Munford from Ohio State is a good one. Those are the names that come to mind.

JM: Those are some great players. I’ve appreciated your time tonight, Shaka. What kind of impact is Shaka Toney going to make at the next level?

ST: Shaka Toney is going to sack quarterbacks at the next level. I’m gonna stuff the run game and do everything that my coaches ask of me. I’m gonna go above and beyond for my team.

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