Those who expected big things from the New York Giants‘ offense in 2020 were left severely disappointed. The Giants averaged a putrid 17.5 points per game this past season. Entering the season, there was plenty of excitement surrounding the Giants’ offensive core.
Veterans like Saquon Barkley, Evan Engram, and Sterling Shepard were looking to grow in a new offensive scheme. Quarterback Daniel Jones was entering his second season, along with wide receiver Darius Slayton, with both players coming off of impressive rookie campaigns. But, unfortunately, one of these players did not make the strides forward that they were expected to.
Daniel Jones seemed to make progress in 2020. His statistics were not impressive, but many fans feel he took a step forward and played much better in the second half of the year. Daniel did have a huge grade jump from Pro Football Focus. In 2019, his overall grade was a 65.9. In 2020, his overall grade rose to a respectable 78.4.
Darius Slayton, however, did not take the same jump that was expected of him. After an impressive rookie season where Slayton found the end zone 8 times with 740 receiving yards, fans thought he could elevate to a new status. But, it was more of the same, maybe even a little less from Slayton in 2020. Darius totaled only 750 yards on 2 more receptions with only 3 total touchdowns.
Now, entering the 2021 NFL offseason, the Giants are looking for new playmakers. General manager Dave Gettleman promised at his post-season press conference that he would upgrade the offense. With this in mind, Darius Slayton’s role in 2021 seems clouded and needs definition.
What will Darius Slayton’s role be in 2021?
Many Giants fans had high hopes for Darius Slayton in 2020. They thought he could elevate to “WR1” status and become New York’s primary receiver. But as the season went on, fans’ opinions changed and they started to hope he would develop into a high-end WR2.
Now, entering this offseason, the Giants are looking for new wide receivers to add to the mix. This could push Slayton down to “WR3” or “WR4” status. But could a reduced role like that benefit the wide receiver as he enters his third season?
As a primary receiver in the Giants’ offense, Slayton struggled at times. Lining up against opposing defense’s best cornerbacks might have been a task too tall for Darius. But in 2021, if the Giants are able to add a new primary wide receiver, Slayton could reap the benefits of facing the opposing team’s second, third, or even fourth-best cornerbacks.
Against team’s with weak secondaries, Darius Slayton flashed his high-end play. For example, Big Play Slay had 8 receptions for 129 yards against the Dallas Cowboys in Week Five. He also had a 93 yard receiving performance against Philadelphia in Week Ten.
Darius Slayton still had a couple of elite performances in 2020. But the consistency was lacking week-to-week. This could have been caused by injuries that bugged Slayton throughout the season. But looking ahead to 2021, if the Giants are able to add that new wide receiver they are searching for, they could see a new and improved Darius Slayton in a more refined role.