Giants’ Pass-Catcher Named Breakout Candidate After Injury

Wan'Dale Robinson

Getty New York Giants WR Wan'Dale Robinson.

The New York Giants are counting on new arrivals Darren Waller, Parris Campbell and Jalin Hyatt to transform a pedestrian passing game, but the biggest impact could come from a receiver already on the roster.

Wan’Dale Robinson’s rookie season was cut short by a torn ACL in Week 11, but the second-round pick in the 2022 NFL draft had already proved his worth. Robinson showed enough to be a breakout candidate for 2023, according to Zoltan Buday of Pro Football Focus, who detailed how the wideout shined from Week 6-11: “over that span, he was targeted on 22.8% of his snaps to lead Giants receivers and rank 18th among receivers in the NFL.”

The heavy workload, which included Robinson playing “220 of his 229 offensive snaps” across five games, was proof of his potential to become a go-to target. Quarterback Daniel Jones needs as many of those as he can get if he’s going to justify the four-year contract worth $160 million he signed earlier this offseason.

Jones will only live up to the numbers if he expands a pass attack that ranked last in the league with just 28 completions for 20-plus yards last season. Robinson may not help the Giants become more vertical, but he should prove an asset from the slot, provided he can overcome heavy competition for the role.

Second-Year Pro Perfect for Slot

Buday isn’t the only one who believes Robinson can be a breakout player this year. The same sentiment is shared by The Draft Network’s Jack McKessy, who credits Robinson with “ease in separation and yards-after-catch skills.”

McKessy’s description is supported by Robinson turning 13 of his 23 receptions into first downs, as well as gaining 126 yards after the catch, per Pro Football Reference. A great example of both came against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 7, when Robinson ran a quick out from the slot to convert on 3rd-and-3.

This was an easy way for Jones and his offense to steal some yards. It’s what makes a diminutive playmaker like 5-foot-8, 185-pound Robinson so valuable.

So does his ability to read coverage and exploit holes in zones, qualities broken down by Super Bowl-winning center Shaun O’Hara for GiantsTV.

O’Hara highlighted a play from the banner game of Robinson’s debut season, Week 11’s 31-18 defeat at the hands of the Detroit Lions. Despite toiling in a losing effort, Robinson made nine catches from 13 targets for 100 yards.

Unfortunately, Robinson was injured in the same game, but he “should be ready for training camp,” according to Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline.

Robinson looks like the obvious choice to be the Giants’ primary weapon from the slot, but the former Western Kentucky standout is actually one of many candidates.

Slot Receiver a Crowded Position for Giants

Campbell can play inside, but he’s not the only receiver at Jones’ disposal used to working in the slot. Veterans Jamison Crowder and Sterling Shepard have also thrived from the position.

Crowder was productive during four campaigns in Washington, then made a career-high 78 catches for the New York Jets in 2019. Yet, the 29-year-old endured a down year with the Buffalo Bills last season and already looks unlikely to make the final roster for the Giants.

Shepard may have a better chance of avoiding final cuts after being brought back in free agency, despite missing yet more extended time with injury. Shepard’s latest outing was derailed when he suffered a torn ACL against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 3, meaning he’s now missed 38 games with various ailments since entering the league in 2016.

The 30-year-old’s had trouble staying healthy, but Shepard’s always been able to stretch the field, like for this 65-yard catch against the Tennessee Titans in Week 1.

Shepard’s a known commodity, but Robinson offers far greater upside. The 22-year-old is a natural fit to complement Waller in the slot while rookie Hyatt and returning duo Darius Slayton and Isaiah Hodgins help Campbell work the outside.

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