Giants’ Free-Agent Wide Receiver 2nd-Best in the NFL in 1 Key Area

Parris Campbell

Getty An unheralded New York Giants' wide receiver was second-best in the NFL in one key area in 2022.

Expectations may not be big for Parris Campbell during his first season with the New York Giants, but the former Indianapolis Colts wide receiver could prove to be the team’s best new addition for one particular reason.

Campbell boasted the second-highest open-target percentage in the NFL during 2022, according to Jim Wyman of Pro Football Focus. Only Tyler Lockett of the Seattle Seahawks got open at a higher rate than Campbell’s 62.4%.

The number represents hugely positive news for the Giants and quarterback Daniel Jones. He led a passing attack that ranked last in the league for explosive plays, generating a mere 28 completions of 20-plus yards.

Campbell has the speed to boost that miserable statistic, but it’s his ability to separate from coverage Jones is likely to appreciate most. Big Blue’s QB1 is under no-small pressure to take a significant step up in his development after signing a four-year, $160-million contract earlier this offseason.

Having better targets to aim for will be key to Jones’ chances of proving the Giants were right to prioritize his long-term future at the expense of running back Saquon Barkley. Campbell hasn’t generated the fanfare of fellow new arrivals like Pro-Bowl tight end Darren Waller, nor rookie burner Jalin Hyatt, but he has the best chance to become Jones’ go-to receiver.

Unheralded Free Agent Primed to Be Daniel Jones’ Favorite

What stood out most about Campell’s knack for getting open last season was how he managed it on a struggling Colts team. While Lockett was taking advantage of Geno Smith’s career resurgence, not to mention the attention defenses paid to fellow wideout DK Metcalf, Campbell had no such advantages.

Instead, Campbell had to make himself available for a trio of misfiring signal-callers, Matt Ryan, Sam Ehlinger and Nick Foles. The quarterback carousel ensured that even when Campbell got open, he didn’t always get the ball.

When things clicked, Campbell showcased his playmaking talent. Like for this touchdown grab against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 10.

The play was notable for Campbell’s speed after the catch, a skill he further endorsed by amassing 277 of his 623 yards after reception last season, per Pro Football Reference.

That particular talent was most obvious from the slot, where Campbell played 82 percent of his snaps in 2022, according to Big Blue View’s Nick Falato.

Campbell’s ability to win when lined up inside will help him replace a key member of last season’s offense, who also performed above expectations.

Bargain Free Agent Can Replace Outgoing Catch Machine

Richie James Jr. “quietly finished third in open-target rate,” per Wyman, before leaving the Giants to join the Kansas City Chiefs in free agency. James’ decision to take his team-leading 57 receptions to the defending Super Bowl champions has left Jones without one of his most reliable targets.

Like Campbell, James was particularly effective from the slot, such as for this clutch catch against NFC East rivals the Washington Commanders in Week 13, highlighted by Alex Wilson of Empire Sports Media.

A total of 371 snaps in the slot showed how comfortable Giants’ head coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka were lining James up inside and asking him to get open.

That burden now falls to Campbell, but the 25-year-old has already been demonstrating his comfort in the role. Campbell worked “mostly out of the slot” during minicamp, according to ESPN’s Jordan Raanan, who also noted how the veteran wideout thrived from the position.

Campbell’s versatility is a big part of why the Giants signed him, with Daboll and Kafka also trying the four-year pro at running back this offseason. It’s as a pass-catcher where Campbell will be most effective, though, and the stars are already aligning for him to continue getting open and make Jones a better quarterback.

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