Darius Slayton Must Rebound From Subpar 2020 Season

Darius Slayton 2020

There is light at the end of tunnel. The New York Giants rebuilding effort has made some headway, but the passing game still remains stuck in neutral. Darius Slayton was expected to become the team’s leading playmaker, but that never transpired in 2020. However, the story is not over as Slayton can rebound from a subpar campaign.

The Giants had one of the worst productive (ranked 29th ) receiving units in the NFL last season. Collectively, the unit caught 321 passes for 3,336 yards. The reasons for the lack of production was too many dropped passes and tipped throws into the hands of a defender for an interception. Another contributing factor was Slayton’s failure to become the lead option in the Giants passing game.

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Darius Slayton Set to Overcome Disappointing 2020 Season

Rookie Darius Slayton Brought Unrealistic 2020 Expectations

Slayton had a memorable (48 catches for 740 yards and eight touchdowns) rookie season. He seemed to be on the verge of becoming a breakout performer. Who could argue? Slayton built an excellent rapport with Daniel Jones as there was clear chemistry between the two in 2019, but that connection was missing last season.

No question, Year 2 was more than a struggle. Slayton (50 catches for 751 yards and only three touchdowns) could never get on track and become a difference-maker in the passing game. Often, he looked lost on the field. His best performance of the season came in a Week 5 37-34 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Slayton caught eight passes for 129 yards on the afternoon.

Despite all of his struggles, the Giants coaches never lost confidence in Slayton as he remained a target in the Giants passing attack all season long. It would have been very easy to limit the throws in his direction, but that would not be the case with Jones under center. Evan Engram (63 catches for 654 yards) and Sterling Shepard (66 catches for 656 yards) were having far more productive seasons, but that did not deter Jones from trying to get Slayton involved in the offense. In the end, the young receiver’s struggles had more to do with a lack of experience in understanding how to create his own space in tight coverage.

Slayton Must Re-Gain Collegiate Receiving Skills

We must remember that Slayton was a virtual unknown coming out of Auburn. Scouts loved his ability to fit into any role in the passing attack. Plus, Slayton was not fazed by the speed of the game or confused by the different defensive pass coverage schemes offered by the opposition.

Some believe Slayton’s misfortunes have a lot to do with the pandemic. The reason being is the young receiver did not have a normal offseason or preseason schedule. It cheated him in terms of not having on-field learning sessions with his position coach. It is something to consider, especially after witnessing Slayton struggle to establish himself in the NFL.

Slayton must re-gain his ability to stretch a defense with his speed, dominate a defender on intermediate pass routes and break a big run on a short throw. If accomplished, then Slayton becomes a real matchup problem for a defense because of his athleticism.

Giants Looking For More Receiving Options in Draft

No question that he can rebound in 2021, especially if the Giants add another outside receiving threat this offseason. This type of acquisition helps Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to isolate Slayton in single coverage situations.

This spring’s NFL Draft, the Giants draft 11th in the first round and all the draftniks believe they will draft a legitimate deep threat with the choice. This year’s receiver class is deep with talent (Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle and Kyle Pitts) and each can make a contribution on the field next season. The Giants need to pinpoint the right player who can make an immediate impact in their passing game.

Sometimes, there is an upside to struggling in your second year as a professional athlete. It gives you the incentive to never rest on your laurels.

If the Giants are going to improve on their win total in 2021, then Slayton must have the football in his hands.

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