The New York Giants are entering a new era under first-year head coach Joe Judge, but he has several young, talented pieces on offense that should make his life easier in 2020. While the NFL world is aware of Saquon Barkley’s potential as a running back, the Giants also appear to have a young dynamic duo forming between quarterback and wide receiver. New York drafted Daniel Jones and Darius Slayton in the 2019 NFL Draft, and while both were not expected to play major roles during their rookie seasons, that’s exactly what they did.
Jones got his first career start in Week 3 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and it was also Slayton’s very first NFL game due to an early-season hamstring injury. In the 32-31 victory, Slayton caught three passes for 82 yards — which was just a small glimpse of what evolved into a special connection over the course of the year. In 14 games, Slayton caught 48 passes for 740 yards and eight touchdowns. His eight scores are tied for the third-most by a rookie in franchise history, two behind Bill Swiacki (1948) and four off Odell Beckham Jr.’s record set in 2014. Slayton also ranks fifth in receiving yards and is tied for sixth in catches. The Giants finished with a 4-12 record in 2019, but Slayton believes he and Jones can help take this team to another level next year.
“[The chemistry] is growing. Right now we’re working on him consistently answering the phone,” Slayton joked, via the Giants’ official website. “That’s kind of the next step in our relationship. He’s gotten better. I know he’s working hard. I’m working hard where I am, and I know we’re both ready to be back together [at the facility].”
Last week, Paul Schwartz of The New York Post reported that Jones took a group of players to Austin, Texas to work out. Slayton was included in that group. While the two are working on their chemistry when it comes to routes and timing, Slayton is also trying to build his confidence to ensure he will be able to reach his full potential in his second season.
“My confidence is something that built as the year went on last year,” said Slayton. “Hopefully this year, I’ll be able to hit it Week 1 running. It’s mostly internal. It’s just all in your head to me. Especially for receivers, to get the ball you’ve got to catch it, catch it low, high, behind you. I think it just starts from having unwavering faith in your hands basically.”
Some may not be ready to admit that Slayton has the potential to be the best wideout on the Giants’ roster, but he did lead the team in both receiving yards and receiving touchdowns during his rookie season. Since they came into the league together, Slayton and Jones may be able to help each other when it comes to both of their developments.
Sterling Shepard missed six games due to concussion issues, Golden Tate turns 32 this offseason and missed a total of five games due to suspension and a concussion and then tight end Evan Engram missed half of the season with a foot injury. A young quarterback needs a talented wideout to rely on and a young wideout needs a consistent signal-caller to put him in position to succeed. Both should be able to build off of each other in 2020.