Regardless of the Quarterback, Darius Slayton Just Wants to Get Open and Make Plays
For Giants rookie wide receiver Darius Slayton, finally having the chance to play with potential future Hall of Fame quarterback Eli Manning has, in his words, been “an honor.”
But no one would blame Manning if he too felt a sense of pride and honor to be playing with a receiver who, after an injury-filled start, has quietly become Mr. Reliable int he passing game.
According to Pro Football Focus, Slayton’s 113.1 rating far and wide tops any of the Giants wide receivers, tight ends, or running backs with at least 20 targets.
And among receivers drafted in 2019 with at least 20 pass targets, Slayton’s NFL Rating is ranked seventh; his 29 first downs gained third; his 15.7 yards per catch tied for third with D.K. Metcalf of Seattle.
“He does a good job of getting separation, a great job on the slant getting a lot of separation,” Manning said of the youngster who, on Monday night, became the latest receiving target in franchise history to catch at least one touchdown pass from Manning. “I think he’s got good speed, tracks the ball well and has some playmaking abilities.”
Due to a combination of his playmaking abilities and injuries to the Giants other receiving targets such as tight end Evan Engram and receiver Sterling Shepard, Slayton has quietly seen an uptick in his pass targets.
In Weeks 3-9, he was targeted 29 times, catching 17 passes. Since Week 10, when he received a career-high 14 pass targets of which he caught 10, he’ s been thrown to 37 times, catching 25 of those balls.
“I knew I wanted to come in and make an impact,” Slayton said. “I knew I could come in and make an impact. I didn’t really know how much I was going to be able to do that, but as I said, I’ve been blessed. Daniel, Eli, having two really good quarterbacks to play with in my rookie season has definitely helped me out a lot.”
Perhaps the most amazing thing about Slayton’s rookie campaign is that unlike some rookie receivers who might get thrown off their game regardless of who’s throwing the ball to them, the connections between Stayton and Manning and Slayton and Jones have been virtually seamless.
That’s partially due to Slayton often being one of the last players off the practice field. If the rookie isn’t catching balls after practice from the Jugg’s machine, he’s running specific routes and catching passes from his quarterback.
Ultimately, Slayton can expect to be catching more career passes from Jones than from Manning, the latter likely in his final season as a Giant, but for Slayton, it doesn’t matter who is barking out the signals.
“Whoever is out there at quarterback, I’m going to go out there and try my best to get open for him and make plays,” he said.