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Giants 2021 roster profile: WR Darius Slayton had inconsistent sophomore season

Presence of Kenny Golladay should help Slayton

NFL: New York Giants at Los Angeles Rams
Darius Slayton chased by Jalen Ramsey last season.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

If there is a single player on the New York Giants roster other than quarterback Daniel Jones who stands to benefit greatly from the signing of Kenny Golladay it could be wide receiver Darius Slayton.

That is because Golladay, not Slayton, should generally be matched up with the opposing teams’s best cornerback. In zone coverages, if teams are going to roll their secondary toward a particular Giant receiver that figures to usually be Golladay.

That should help Slayton be more productive in his third NFL season.

Let’s take a closer look at Slayton as we continue player-by-player profiles of the 90-man roster the Giants will bring to training camp.

The basics

Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 190
Age: 24
Position: Wide receiver
Experience: 2
Contract: Year 3 of four-year, $2.753 million rookie contract | 2021 cap hit: $908,497

Career to date

The Giants have gotten more production in his first two seasons than they could have expected after selecting him 171st overall in Round 5 of the 2019 NFL Draft. He has given the Giants 98 receptions, 1,491 yards, 11 touchdowns and 15.2 yards per catch.

Those, truthfully, are nice numbers for a fifth-round pick who was the 18th receiver selected in that draft. Only four wide receivers selected in that class — A.J. Brown (51st/Titans), D.K. Metcalf (64th/Seahawks), Diontae Johnson (66th/Steelers), and Terry McLaurin (76th/Football Team) have more receiving yards.

What those numbers do not represent are No. 1 wide receiver quality numbers. Slayton might have, by default, been considered that for the Giants in 2020. Expecting him to be that last season might have been a bit unfair.

2021 outlook

Provided that Golladay is healthy, it follows that Slayton should receive less attention from opposing secondaries. Perhaps that will lead to more favorable matchups.

Slayton had a rough 2020 in many ways. His yards receiving per game dropped from 52.9 to 46.9. His catch percentage dropped from 57.1 to 52.1. His yards per target dropped from 8.8 to 7.8. His drops rose from two to six, with his drop percentage rising from 2.4 to 6.3. His passer rating when targeted dropped 98.3 to 79.8.

It’s next to impossible to figure out how many times Slayton was covered by the opposing team’s No. 1 cornerback. At least, I haven’t figured out a place that has charted that data.

Football Outsiders has a DVOA (Defensive Value Over Average) statistic called defense vs. receivers that shows how each secondary fared against opposing team’s nominal first, second and third receivers.

Going by that statistic, the Giants faced five of the six teams that graded out the best against the opposition’s No. 1 receiver.

Entering his third season, Slayton should improve. NFL experience combined with better matchups could make this a good year for the former Auburn Tiger.