Trading for Darren Waller meant the New York Giants added a legitimate Pro-Bowl talent to a pedestrian game, but it might not have been the best move Big Blue made to get better through the air in 2023.
That distinction could belong to the “low-risk, potentially high-reward deal” given to wide receiver Parris Campbell in NFL free agency. An unnamed analyst speaking to The 33rd Team’s Ari Meirov, praised the Giants for adding a wideout who’s “electric with the ball in his hands and is a young playmaker who will help Daniel Jones in the middle of the field as well as the perimeter.”
Campbell, formerly of the Indianapolis Colts, tallied just 623 receiving yards last season, but he still has qualities the Giants need. Specifically, the analyst told Meirov, (Giants head coach) “Brian Daboll needs his receivers to have the ability to separate, and Campbell is really good at that.”
Aside from being able to stretch the field, Campbell is considered “a high-character guy, which I know matters a lot for this Giants program.”
This is all high praise for a receiver who has yet to catch more than 63 passes in a single season. Nevertheless, the Giants are counting on the 25-year-old to become the type of go-to target missing from 2022’s contingent of pass-catchers.
New Arrival Can Exceed Expectations
Campbell played a full season for the first time in his four-year career in 2022 and did enough to warrant the belief he’s a player on the rise. In particular, the former Ohio State product showcased a flair for stretching the field, along with the ability to make contested catches in a crowd.
Both of those attributes were obvious when Campbell burned the Giants for 49 yards in Week 17:
This was one of five catches of 30-plus yards made by Campbell last season. It’s an impressive number, but not confirmation Campbell is merely a deep threat lacking the nuance to get open underneath.
Instead, he amassed 277 of his 623 yards after the catch, breaking five tackles in the process, per Pro Football Reference. Not only can Campbell turn short throws into healthy gains, he’s also a prolific chain-mover, having converted 32 of his 63 grabs into first downs.
Campbell’s multi-faceted value in the passing game will soon make him a favorite target for Jones. The latter has receivers who are capable of working from the slot, notably, Wan’Dale Robinson and Sterling Shepard, while Isaiah Hodgins and Darius Slayton can win on the outside.
Campbell will not only offer Jones a wideout who can do both. He’ll also add another level of unpredictability to the offense, thanks to his talent as a runner.
This talent showed up on a 28-yard scamper against the Washington Commanders in Week 8, a play highlighted by Rookie Scouting Portfolio creator Matt Waldman:
Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka won’t be short of ways to get Campbell the ball and exploit his speed in space. Their creativity can help Campbell form a deadly double act with the other new face among Jones’ pass-catchers.
Giants Can Unleash Prolific Duo in 2023
Pairing Campbell with Waller should transform the Giants’ offense. Waller affirmed his credentials as a prolific tight end by recording back-to-back seasons with over 1100 yards for the Las Vegas Raiders in 2019 and ’20.
Having Waller boss coverage between the numbers while Campbell threatens the perimeter will stretch defenses beyond breaking point. That’s the theory, anyway, although only history repeating itself will prevent this double act from becoming a reality on the field.
The history in question is the lengthy injury records endured by Campbell and Waller. Knee and foot injuries cost Campbell 25 games through 2020 and ’21, while ankle, knee and hamstring problems limited Waller to just 17 starts the last two seasons.
Daboll and Giants’ general manager Joe Schoen are taking a risk their new acquisitions can stay healthy. If the gamble pays off, Jones will have all the weaponry he needs to make the necessary strides as a passer and justify the four-year, $160 million contract he received this offseason.