Last year, the New York Giants had one of the NFL’s most surprisingly effective offenses. In the previous couple of seasons, Saquon Barkley had struggled to stay healthy, Daniel Jones continually turned the ball over, the offensive line resembled a turnstile and the wide receivers generally left much to be desired.
Yet under new head coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, things changed a bit. Barkley stayed mostly healthy, for one thing. Jones got the turnovers under control, and was able to weaponize his rushing abilities far better than in the past. The line stabilized and held up fairly well. The receivers still weren’t great, but the Giants did at least get contributions from the likes of Richie James (57 receptions for 569 yards and four touchdowns), Isaiah Hodgins (33-351-4) and Darius Slayton (46-724-2).
Still, the pass-catching group was a relative weak point for the offense. This offseason, the biggest additions to the unit were tight end Darren Waller, free-agent wideout Parris Campbell and third-round pick Jalin Hyatt. Heading into 2023, it doesn’t necessarily look like there’s a top-tier receiver among the group.
Slayton, though, thinks it can be him. “I believe in myself. I believe in my ability. I believe in the work I put in the offseason,” Slayton said, per the New York Post. “Whether we add 10 guys, whether we add all of you guys, I believe I’ll find my way on the field.”
He’s also not bothered by the idea that people don’t think there is a true No. 1 wideout among himself and his teammates in the receiver room. “I wouldn’t say it bothers me because everybody doesn’t know what I know,” Slayton said. “Everybody is not in the Giants’ building. At the end of the day, you can only judge based on what you see from afar.”
There’s a really simple explanation for the relative lack of production from himself and the other wideouts, he believes.
“You see this guy go for 1,010 [yards] or see a guy go for 100 yards every week, and you go, ‘He’s really good,'” Slayton said. “Some of these guys play with nobody. I play with Saquon [Barkley]. Where do you think the ball is going first? Not me. We had Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram and now Darren [Waller]. I didn’t play with just a bunch of bums. That’s a little annoying because at the end of the day, it’s not like I’ve ever been the only person or one person to get the ball, whereas somebody [else] is. It is what it is. At the end of the day, I just play to win. As long as the Giants win, I’ll be alright.”
The Giants did a fair amount of winning last year, going 9-7-1 and making the playoffs for the first time since 2016. They defeated the Minnesota Vikings on the road in the first round, only to fall to the eventual conference champion Philadelphia Eagles the next week. Now, the Giants are tasked with living up to what they did last season. The receivers will have to play a big role in that, and Slayton thinks he’s up for the challenge.