New York Giants: Is Darius Slayton trending toward WR1 status?

New York Giants, Darius Slayton

After a strong rookie season where New York Giants receiver Darius Slayton posted 740 yards and eight touchdowns, the expectation was that he would improve in 2020. Some even coined him a possible wide receiver one in the NFL, showing off stellar developments in his route running and catching ability.

Dating back to the beginning of his first rookie camp, Slayton was dropping passes at an astronomical rate, but he has solved that issue and is one of the more reliable receivers for the Giants this season. Through 10 games, Slayton has 584 yards and three scores, catching nearly 60% of balls thrown in his direction.

He is on pace for 934 yards receiving end five touchdowns, but Slayton doesn’t live and die off the deep ball anymore. He’s averaging more yards per game and the same yards per reception as last year, his rookie season. His ability to run more efficient slant routes and digs has helped quarterback Daniel Jones in the passing game.

Is Darius Slayton a WR1 for the New York Giants?

At this point in his career, Darius seems to be trending toward ‘great’ status, but I don’t think he will ever reach WR1. He simply doesn’t have the elite playmaking ability and consistent hands you would see in a player like Julio Jones or DeAndre Hopkins. He’s a more slender receiver at 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, utilizing his agility and speed to get open.

That doesn’t mean he can’t be incredibly efficient alongside Sterling Shepard and potentially another pass catcher in 2021. The Giants could target free agents like Allen Robinson or Kenny Golladay, who are bonafide top receivers and would bring a stellar presence to the offense.

Nonetheless, it is important to have secondary receivers that can perform exceptionally well on a weekly basis, and Slayton fits that bill perfectly. Not only has he developed into a much more refined route runner, but he pushes the defense and stretches the field, opening up the running game and play action.

Through 10 weeks, he has a 73.2 overall grade, tallying 30 first downs and four drops. Aside from the first two weeks of the season, Slayton has been solid when targeted in the passing game but is actually dropping the ball more than he did in his rookie season when he recorded just three.

I believe an uptick in targets might be the result, but he has proven to be a play-maker for the Giants and one they can rely on.