The New York Giants signing Kenny Golladay shouldn’t deter quarterback Daniel Jones from curating a special connection with former fifth-round selection Darius Slayton out of Auburn. The past two seasons, Slayton has made a significant impact on a miserable offensive unit, recording more than 700 yards in each of his first two seasons.
Slayton is an intriguing talent, with blazing speed on vertical routes and the ability to blow the top off of defenses. While his average catch rate hovers around 55%, there’s plenty of untapped potential to realize with the 24-year-old receiver.
When considering Daniel Jones’s strengths, specifically when throwing the ball downfield, Slayton matches up perfectly with the future of the offense — indicated by the air-raid hire of Russ Callaway. The expectation is that Jason Garrett will devise a plan that focuses more on driving the ball downfield than playing West Coast style and littering the shorter portions with targets. While Jones will have plenty of security blankets in Kadarius Toney and Kyle Rudolph, focusing on scoring points on game-breaking plays with Slayton and Golladay could be more of a focal point.
How did Slayton impact the New York Giants in 2020?
Last season, Slayton finished with 751 yards and three scores but was on pace for better before suffering a foot injury in Week 6 against Washington. After this contest, his numbers tapered off rather quickly after posting two 100+ yard performances in the first five weeks of the season.
This throw from Daniel Jones to Darius Slayton last season was GORGEOUS.
This thing hangs PERFECTLY into the back of the end-zone, with pressure closing in, only where Slayton can grab it.
That's why the NYG need to be more vertical. pic.twitter.com/6TVwrtKZGN
— Alex Wilson (@AlexWilsonESM) June 14, 2021
Despite a small sample size, Jones finished as one of the most accurate downfield passers in the NFL last season. His targets 20+ yards accounted for less than 10% of his total attempts, but increasing that number with better receivers should prove to be a major factor in improved scoring and production next season. The Giants also went out and signed John Ross to provide blazing speed and the return of Saquon Barkley should command ample attention in the box.
Defenses were playing plenty of Cover-1 last year, certainly lacking respect for the Giants’ receivers, but the reality for this unit should be far different in 2021 with the acquisition of Golladay and a healthy Slayton/Saquon.
Of course, Darius still has a few kinks to iron out, including six dropped passes last year, a number he needs to alleviate if he wants to be considered a high-end WR2 at the NFL level. However, he was on pace for 1,081 yards and eight touchdowns before the injury against Washington.
The Giants are going to have to spread the ball for more next season with the injection of more talent, but don’t count out Slayton and the connection he has with Jones, particularly with targets 20+ yards downfield.