Round 5, #171 Overall: WR Darius Slayton, Auburn
Darius Slayton was unable to improve and build off a promising rookie season.
After racking up 740 yards and 8 touchdowns in year one, most of his receiving numbers fell in disappointing style. He put up those surprising numbers as a 5th round rookie who was a bit of an afterthought in the Giants offense heading into the season.
Instead, Slayton’s combination of size, speed, and ball skills quickly got him on the field and he developed a strong rapport with Daniel Jones. It was expected that both players would improve from their rookie seasons and further developing a pairing as a serious connection for the Giants offense in 2020 to rely on and consistently move the sticks.
Nagging injuries played a big role in Slayton’s regression.
He played through numerous lower-body injuries such as ankle and leg injuries that caused him to limp off the field numerous times and miss consecutive plays and drives in several games. This inconsistent aspect of his game made his contributions always uncertain and took away a huge speed element to the offense.
After hauling eight touchdowns in 2019, Slayton’s total fell to three in 2020. To make that number worse, he had two touchdowns in Week 1 (while clearly more healthy), and then only caught one more touchdown the next 15 weeks in the Giants’ first win of the year in Week 6 vs the WFT.
His season totals include 50 catches for 751 yards, three touchdowns, 40 first downs, with a catch percentage of 52.1%. Slayton also hauled in one of the biggest passes of the season, a 40-yard reception to help the Giants secure a two-score lead late in the 4th quarter to beat the Eagles and snap their 7-game losing streak vs the Birds.
Year 2 Grade: C+
2021 Role and Beyond:
Darius Slayton will enter 2021 as an integral part of the Giants offense what they want and need to accomplish. The team needs more speed offensively and Slayton is their only true speed or deep threat on the roster currently.
At this point, Slayton was still a raw 5th round pick for a reason. He needs to stay healthy, stay more consistent, and do a better job of creating more separation along with hauling in tough passes in contested situations.
He projects to be a WR2 long-term and not somebody who should be the face of an NFL receiver room. He needs help in the receiver unit and will be counted on as a likely starter and big target for Daniel Jones in their respective year three together. The strong Jones-Slayton pairing we saw in 2019 will be one of the key things needed for the NY Giants to make the playoffs in 2021.