After an awful first practice of rookie mini-camp that left observers wondering if he would ever be more than a speedy wide receiver with unreliable hands, rookie Darius Slayton rebounded with what turned into an excellent spring.
Let’s take a closer look at Slayton as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the 90-man roster the Giants will bring to training camp.
Position: Wide receiver
How he got here
Slayton was a big play specialist at Auburn. He caught 79 passes in three seasons for 1,605 yards, an incredible 20.3 yards per catch average, and 11 touchdowns. Looking for a deep threat to add to their receiving corps, the Giants selected Slayton in Round 5, 171st overall.
Brugler summarized Slayton this way:
A three-year starter at Auburn, Slayton was the boundary wideout in the Tigers’ spread scheme and was pigeonholed as the deep threat in the offense (accounted for eight career catches of 50-plus yards). With his track speed, he spent his much of his football life running past coverage and that wasn’t always the case in the SEC, forcing him to develop as a route-runner, which is an ongoing transformation. Slayton has the easy acceleration to push cornerbacks off the top of routes and the elusive feet to make defenders miss in space. He needs to continue his development in two key areas to reach his potential: expanding his route tree and becoming a better finisher when the ball is in the air. Overall, Slayton has inconsistencies to his game, but he is much more than simply a speed demon, showcasing fluid athleticism and length to make catches outside his framework, projecting as a high-upside developmental receiver.
Draft Network said:
Slayton is a unique prospect because of the role Auburn used him in. While it’s apparent that he has ability as a vertical receiver, his production as an intermediate receiver is essentially non-existent. However, his traits suggest future success in a complimentary role at the next level, as his speed and knowledge of route running suggest progression into a more versatile role. Athleticism and size combination is already close to NFL-level.
Like Auburn may have pigeonholed Slayton as a deep receiver, it was easy to think that the Giants would initially do the same thing. Honestly, they might. Slayton can blow the top off of a defense. It wasn’t uncommon in spring practices to see him running free down the field with defensive backs in futile pursuit.
If his spring performance is an indication of what is to come, Slayton might be more than that much sooner than anticipated. He has shown the Giants that he can do more than run fast.
“I think Slayton has been pretty consistent. He’s been a really good pick for us,” offensive coordinator Mike Shula said. “As long as he stays on track he’s got good speed, he uses his hands you can see. He’s got more confidence in his hands, he’s catching the ball more consistently.
“I think he’s a good route runner, that was one thing kind of coming out of the draft I was anxious to see how he did with maybe our routes, which were maybe a little bit different that the routes he ran at Auburn. He does a good job at the top end of those routes.”
As of now, there is no clear depth chart behind starting wide receivers Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard. If he continues his impressive work once training camp begins, Slayton will be pushing to become the Giants’ third or fourth wide receiver.