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Mailbag: Potential of Daniel Jones-Darius Slayton


Kush in New York: Do you think that the connection between Slayton and Daniel Jones will strengthen this year and if so, do you think they can be a top 10 QB/WR duo?

John Schmeelk: Evaluating Darius Slayton's production last year is tough because he only played in 14 games (11 starts) and didn't start getting full-time snaps until October. So, it's important to look at some of his "rate" stats to get a better feel for how well he played.

According to Pro Football Focus, Slayton led the Giants in yards per reception (15.7), average depth of target (14.5), and was second to Golden Tate in yards per route run (1.53). He was third on the team in yards per game. He had the most receptions that went for first downs (32) and led the team in receiving touchdowns with eight.

Daniel Jones only completed 57% of his passes thrown to Slayton. The only player with a lower percentage last year was Russell Shepard. Slayton, however, only had three drops.

What can we conclude from these numbers?

Slayton was Jones' primary downfield threat, so while he did not get a high volume of shorter, efficient targets, he made more longer, difference-making plays. He has the best combination of size and speed on the team and the traditional traits of what Jason Garrett has looked for out of an "X" receiver in the offense.

If Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard remain on the field this season, I would expect Slayton's role to remain similar to what it was as a rookie. Perhaps he could diversify the types of passes/routes he is involved in. If he averages what he did last year but plays more games and snaps, his statistics will take a natural bump and get closer to 60 catches and 900 receiving yards.

Larry in New York: Do the Giants have any linebackers that can cover or can they use a scheme which would help curtail the problem of tight ends hurting them in the middle of the field?

John Schmeelk: We aren't quite sure what the defensive scheme is going to look like this season, but if Miami's scheme last season is any indication, we should see a lot of man-to-man coverage. There are not a lot of linebackers who can play man coverage against the more athletic tight ends in the league. Blake Martinez is fully capable of dropping into a zone, reading route combinations and being in the right place at the right time. If they play man, I would suspect the Giants will try to make sure one of their safeties, rather than a linebacker, covers the opposing tight end.

Al in New Jersey: Ryan Connelly looked like a player worth developing last year before he got hurt. Assuming he is healthy, what is the Giants' take on him?

John Schmeelk: Connelly played 187 defensive snaps over four games last year. He made enough plays and showed enough promise to be considered part of the competition to be the second starting inside linebacker, next to Blake Martinez. We will see how healthy Connelly is when the team returns to the field this summer. The hope is he can be effective against the pass and his two interceptions are indicative of his potential.

View photos of the Giants' active roster as it currently stands.

Bill in Virginia: How will not having fans in the stands affect the motivation of the players?

John Schmeelk: It might impact their adrenaline a little bit as the game starts, but once play begins it won't matter. Players are focused on beating the man lined up across from them and winning the game. Once they lock in on the competition part of the game, the lack of fans shouldn't impact anything.

Ben in Connecticut: What will Darnay Holmes' role be with the team, considering his size? Will he or Julian Love play nickel cornerback?

John Schmeelk: Holmes' size and athleticism seem perfect to play nickel cornerback in the NFL. Based on what he did last season, I see Love as more of a safety and part-time inside cover player than a full-time nickel.

Frank in New Jersey: Do you think the Giants will be a run-oriented offense?

John Schmeelk: Last year under Jason Garrett, the Cowboys were 12th in the NFL in run frequency overall, and ranked 10th in run frequency in the first half and on 1st-and-10. The GIants did not run the ball as often, but I would expect the Giants to try to run the ball plenty during the early part of games this season.

Paul in Connecticut: Is Xavier McKinney the answer to the single-high, free safety/robber position the Giants have been desperately seeking for many years? Is Julian Love perhaps his viable backup at the free safety position?

John Schmeelk: Dave Gettleman said in his post-draft comments that one of the primary reasons they drafted Xavier McKinney was his ability to cover deep. It tells me that he will probably fill that deep centerfield role in single-high safety formations. McKinney and Love should compete at that spot, and there's a chance they could play together on passing downs since both are versatile.

The robber position is a little different, and is often played by the other safety not covering the deep part of the defense in single-high formations. His job is to bait the quarterback into throws so he can get interceptions in crowded areas.

View photos of every roster addition made by the Giants this offseason.


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