New York Giants: Can Darius Slayton Develop Into A No. 1 Receiver?

New York Giants, Darius Slayton

The New York Giants have seen early returns from most of their 2019 NFL Draft class. Rookie quarterback Daniel Jones has flashed franchise quarterback potential while another rookie Dexter Lawrence has performed as one of the best interior defensive linemen in the NFL.

But perhaps the most intriguing rookie so far has been Darius Slayton. Slayton has been the biggest surprise of the Giants’ 2019 draft class. The Giants drafted Darius Slayton in the fifth round. So far, he has played much better than his draft stock would indicate.

Darius Slayton Stats And Highlights:

Daniel Jones and Darius Slayton have formed strong chemistry so far this season. Slayton has caught 27 passes on 46 targets for 394 yards and 5 touchdowns in 8 games. Slayton has only started 5 of these games as he dealt with injuries earlier this season that kept his playing-time limited.

But since then, Slayton has been a dependable and electric receiver. Coming out of college, Darius was looked at as a “one-trick pony,” a receiver who could only be an occasional deep threat. He was criticized for having inconsistent hands and ball-tracking. For these reasons, projected Slayton is a prospect with a “chance to be an NFL starter” and a possible number two or number three receiver on a team. So far, Slayton has already proved these evaluations to be wrong.

Can Darius Slayton Be A Primary Receiver?

Projected as a number three receiver, Darius Slayton has already exceeded these expectations. Slayton has been playing as the Giants’ number two receiver for the past five weeks with Sterling Shepard out and he has been playing solid football within this role.

Additionally, Darius was used as the Giants’ number one receiver in their most recent game. In the Giants’ Week 10 loss to the Jets, Darius Slayton was Daniel Jones’s primary receiver. He received the lion’s share of targets in the MetLife Bowl. Jones targeted Slayton 14 times against the Jets resulting in 10 receptions for 121 yards and 2 touchdowns.

This was the first time Darius Slayton has been used as the Giants’ primary receiver. This increased role led to increased success. Here is a Player Chart by Next Gen Stats from Week 8:

Darius Slayton’s routes against Detroit were all deep routes over 15 yards. In this game, Slayton did manage to grab two impressive deep touchdown catches. However, his skill set was being limited because he was not being targeted on quick routes underneath, which he is actually pretty good at, as demonstrated on Sunday.

Here is Darius Slayton’s Player Chart from Week 10 against the New York Jets. Notice, he only ran three routes 15 yards or deeper, but ran a hefty dosage of routes under ten yards, resulting in a lot of completions and one huge catch and run for a touchdown off of a slant route:

Darius Slayton has demonstrated ball tracking and route-running far better than he was given credit for as a draft prospect. Slayton’s impressive ball-tracking can be seen on this touchdown grab against Detroit:

Additionally, Darius’s underrated short route-running can be seen on this touchdown reception against the Jets:

In order for Darius Slayton to develop into a number one receiver, he will need to improve his short route running and create more consistent separation underneath. He has flashed the potential, like on that slant route against the Jets. The key is to make plays like that occur more frequently. If Slayton can do that and pair an improved short-game with his already impressive long-game, then he could have a chance to develop into a number one receiver for the New York Giants.