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Giants’ WR group has potential, but clearly still needs a star

Let’s review the receivers, and look ahead to next season

Philadelphia Eagles v New York Giants
Darius Slayton and Wan’Dale Robinson celebrate.
Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

New York Giants general manager Joe Schoen spent much of last offseason trying to add playmakers at the wide receiver spot. He landed Jalin Hyatt in the draft and Parris Campbell in free agency, to mixed results.

Let’s review the performance of the wide receiver position in 2023, and look ahead to what the position could look like in 2024.

2023 in review

The roster

Darius Slayton, Wan’Dale Robinson, Jalin Hyatt, Isaiah Hodgins, Sterling Shepard, Parris CampbellLet’s go player by player.

Darius Slayton
Receptions: 50 | Yards: 770 | YPC: 15.4 | TDs: 4 | Passer rating when targeted: 101.8 | Average YAC: 6.0 | Drop rate: 3.8%

Slayton just kept doing Slayton things in 2023. He led the Giants in receiving yards for the fourth time in five seasons, finishing north of 700 receiving yards for the fourth time. He caught 50 passes, the fourth time in five seasons he has had between 46 and 50 receptions. He caught four touchdown passes. The 101.8 passer rating when targeted was the best of his career.

The most impressive thing Slayton did in 2023 was lower his drop rate. After dropping 10.3% of his targets in 2021 and 9.9% last season, he had just three drops in 79 targets in 2023, a 3.8% drop rate.

Slayton did all of this with three different quarterbacks — Daniel Jones, Tommy Devito and Tyrod Taylor. He has had a solid, consistent — if unspectacular — career despite the dysfunction the Giants have often experienced on the offensive side of the ball.

Wan’Dale Robinson
Receptions: 60 | Yards: 525 | YPC: 8.8 | TDs: 1 | Passer rating when targeted: 98.5 | Average YAC: 4.8 | Drop rate: 3.8%

Coming off surgery for a torn ACL in the middle of the 2022 season, Robinson was inactive for the first two games. He ended up having a nice season as he got healthier and healthier throughout the year.

Robinson averaged double-digit yards per reception only once in his first eight games, catching one pass for 22 yards against the Washington Commanders. Over his final seven games, he averaged double-digit yards per catch five times. In the season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles, he caught five passes for 85 yards, a season-best 17.0 yards per catch. Robinson said “no doubt” that game was the best he had felt since his surgery.

Jalin Hyatt
Receptions: 23 | Yards: 373 | YPC: 16.2 | TDs: 0 | Passer rating when targeted: 68.0 | Average YAC: 2.1 | Drop rate: 7.5%

Hyatt’s speed and big-play ability made him one of the stars of training camp. The third-round pick flashed that big-play ability during the regular season, but a 23-catch, 373-yard, no touchdown season was less than what the Giants had hoped for when they traded up to get him in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Isaiah Hodgins
Receptions: 21 | Yards: 230 | YPC: 11.0 | TDs: 3 | Passer rating when targeted: 114.5 | Average YAC: 3.6 | Drop rate: 0.0%

Hodgins starred for the Giants in the second half of the 2022 season after the Giants claimed him on waivers from the Buffalo Bills. He could not reclaim that level of success in 2023.

Hodgins was clearly the Giants’ fourth receiver. He played fewer snaps than Slayton, Robinson and Hyatt. Perhaps the fact that he did not drop a pass in 33 targets and had an outstanding passer rating when targeted of 114.5 should have earned him more snaps. The Giants, though, clearly committed to the development of Robinson and Hyatt as the season unfolded, a decision they hope will pay long-term dividends.

Sterling Shepard
Receptions: 10 | Yards: 57 | YPC: 5.7 | TDs: 1 | Passer rating when targeted: 48.7 | Average YAC: 3.3 | Drop rate: 13.6%

Shepard was an afterthought in the offense for much of the season. He played only 142 offensive snaps, with 10 receptions for 57 yards and a touchdown.

In the season finale, Shepard moved ahead of Jeremy Shockey and into fifth place on the Giants’ all-time receptions list with 372 catches. The season as a whole was a non-descript ending to Shepard’s Giants career.

Parris Campbell
Receptions: 20 | Yards: 104 | YPC: 5.2 | TDs: 0 | Passer rating when targeted: 49.0 | Average YAC: 3.3 | Drop rate: 3.7%

The Giants signed Campbell, coming off the best season of an injury-plagued career, to a one-year prove-it deal in free agency. After an unsatisfying season for both the Giants and the player, it will be stunning if Campbell returns to the Giants in 2024.

Campbell caught just 20 passes, only four after Week 5. For several games, his only role was as a kickoff returner. Campbell was inactive for the final five games despite averaging a solid 23.9 yards on eight kickoff returns.

2024 outlook

There should be optimism about this position group heading into next season.

Shepard and Campbell won’t be back, but Slayton, Robinson, Hyatt and Hodgins provide the beginnings of a quality wide receiver group.

Slayton has a year left on his contract, even though there is no guaranteed salary left on the two-year, $12 million deal he signed before the 2023 season. He carries a $7.95 million salary cap hit and if the Giants were to choose to move on they could save $6.2 million against the cap. In my view, a contract extension would be the smart play. He is a good player and at 26 should still be in the midst of his best years.

Robinson should be healthier next season, a year removed from his ACL surgery. If the way he ended last season is an indication of what to expect, he could have a good 2024 season. Hyatt should get better as he continues to refine his route running and perhaps a bit of muscle to his frame. Better offensive line play would help the Giants maximize his skillset. Hodgins is a good player who can make plays when given the opportunity. He can be a restricted free agent, but there is little reason for the Giants not to bring him back.

The question is who will join them? More to the point, can Schoen find a potential No. 1 wide receiver to add to a solid group that clearly needs one?

The Giants have the sixth overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. There are three top wide receivers considered worthy of top 10 selections — Marvin Harrison Jr. of Ohio State, Malik Nabers of LSU and Rome Odunze of Washington. One or more could be available to the Giants, who appear to have a choice at No. 6 between receiver, quarterback and offensive tackle.

Free agency could provide an answer. Will Tee Higgins, the prize of the free agent receiver market, reach free agency or will the Cincinnati Bengals sign or franchise tag him?