The New York Giants are rounding into playoff form, having clinched a wild card spot and one big reason is the development within the wide receiver room.
What Does the Data Say?
If you consider the Giants current top three wide receivers: Richie James, Darius Slayton, and Isaiah Hodgins an interesting story begins to unfold as you peel back the layers of analytical data.
According to NFL Next Gen Stats Richie James leads the NFL with a catch rate percentage of 81.43%. This is 57 receptions on 70 targets with 3 drops (a 5% drop rate) in 4 starts and 13 games played this season.
Data also shows that Isaiah Hodgins is currently the third rated wide receiver in the NFL with a catch rate of 77.08% (37 receptions on 48 targets) in 4 starts and 9 games played this season.
Hodgins is one of only 4 wide receivers with 35 plus receptions and no drops. Early returns show Joe Schoen potentially unearthed a hidden gem when he claimed Hodgins after he was waived by the Bills.
Can Slayton Overcome His Biggest Weakness?
The obvious elephant in the room is Darius Slayton. The drops are an issue. He currently has 7 drops on 53 catchable passes which puts him at a 13% pass drop rate. This is a follow up from 2021 (6 drops on 34 catchable passes – 18%) and 2020 (6 drops on 56 catchable passes – 11%).
Drops have been an issue with Slayton throughout his 40 starts and 58 career games in the NFL. Among the top ten NFL wide receivers based on receptions this season, the drop rate fluctuates between 3% and 8% with an average of 6%.
While James and Hodgins fit nicely into that expected window, it will be a hard sell to expect Slayton to stick around in his current role with his proven affinity for drops but the potential has always been there.
More than Practice Squad Receivers?
Joe Schoen’s early returns say that he landed at least two quality depth pieces for this wide receiver room.
Add in the massive potential of Darius Slayton sans his drop issues and it seems as if Brian Daboll along with the coaching staff (WR Coach, Mike Groh deserves a shout out here as well) have unlocked some solid production from the WR room.
These players throughout the entire season have been referred to as “practice squad receivers”.
Maybe it’s time to at the least consider Richie James and Isaiah Hodgins for their potential. The former is a solid depth piece for this continued rebuild and the latter is a player with 11 NFL games under his belt and the potential to fill a much larger role in the future. If nothing else, it is nice to admit that the cupboard is not bare.