NAME: Darius Slayton
POSITION: Wide Receiver
CLASS: RS Junior
JERSEY: No. 81
RECRUITMENT RATING: 4-star
WT: 190 lbs
Route Running – Slayton is an experienced and aware route runner, who understands how to adjust angles into more space. Consistently operated on the vertical plane, often targeted on Go routes. Seamless vertical cuts and acceleration, and will change his speeds to burst by defensive backs. Works to stacks defensive backs when he gains space on them vertically. Flashes a dead leg cut that is efficient on horizontal breaks. Weight drop is excellent, who breaks with a sound base and can snap off curls routes quickly. Understands how to get on the toes of defensive backs and break off of it. Had success against press coverage with his lateral movements. Lack of reps on intermediate or in-breaking routes, but traits suggest an easier transition into a fuller route tree in the NFL. Conscious about defensive backs jamming and knocking him off of his line, but inconsistent in how he went about disengaging, often needing to recycle his hands and spend extra time beating contact.
Athleticism / Speed – One of the fastest wide receivers in a straight line in the NFL Draft. True burners. His speed translates into his vertical route running and as a ball carrier, as he can ruin the angles of potential tacklers. Muscular build but his frame suggests he could add some weight, and additional strength could go a long way for how he deals with contact. Loose in the hips and his flexibility shows on his route breaks.
Hands / Ball Skills – Downfield ball skills are excellent, as he has a unique feel for when to extend for the football while avoiding contact. High point ability is apparent on film, and has solid length in his arms to expand his catch radius. Slayton has shown concentration drops on film, particularly when he’s afforded space in coverage. His consistency needs to be better in order to improve his possession traits for the next level.
Body Control – Seamless body control, especially down the field. Can rise from any platform and flip his hips to a position of full extension. High point potential over defensive backs consistently flashed down the field. Pulled in passes through contact.
Ball Carrier – Elusive and dynamic ball carrier. Consistently makes the first defender miss, and can accelerate at an elite pace after slipping through tackles. Heavily incorporated in the screen game because of YAC ability. Contact balance who can stay upright through low tacklers, keeps his feet moving through contact. Sets up his blocks well, and gets vertical immediately after gliding by them. Aware of space and defenders.
Stalk Blocking –Sprints off the line of scrimmage just as he’s releasing on vertical routes. Distributed frame and decent effort while stalk blocking. Works to get his hands inside and operates with a solid base. Can catch blocks but will recoil and begin to drive defensive backs. Issues arise when he gets to the top of his stem but halts his feet and fails to collapse space on the defensive back. Could show more effort after not being targeted on RPO routes.
Versatility – Aligned all around the formation, and has the size/speed combination to suggest this will continue at the next level. Generally used as a deep ball and space player, and lacked reps to suggest a well-rounded game. No returner experience throughout his time in college.
BEST TRAIT – Speed
WORST TRAIT – Hands
RED FLAGS – N/A
Slayton is a unique prospect because of the role Auburn used him in. While it’s apparent that he has ability as a vertical receiver, his production as an intermediate receiver is essentially non-existent. However, his traits suggest future success in a complimentary role at the next level, as his speed and knowledge of route running suggest progression into a more versatile role. Athleticism and size combination is already close to NFL-level.
PROS: Vertical threat who tracks and finishes on the ball well. Able to find the football over his shoulder despite contact. Adjusts to underthrown balls well. May not be a blazing speedster, but has enough build-up speed to get on top of defenders late.
Strong hands despite minimal targets. Natural catcher of the football. Has some strength to break tackles after the catch. Terrific size and build for a receiver, looks far thicker and more muscular than his 190-pound listing. Varies his releases and works corners physically to get position in route stem. Does a good job working open in scramble drills. Strong effort as a blocker.
CONS: Despite vertical prowess, doesn’t high point enough to project to a great contested catch receiver. Lets the ball come to him and rarely goes and gets it over defenders. For a receiver who relies on speed for his entire game, an elite 40 will be extremely important. Rumored to run 4.35, which would be faster than I expect to see. ESPN Recruiting has him running 4.92 out of high school. He’s definitely faster than that.
Route tree is super simple due to Auburn’s offense. Hitches, nine routes and bubbles are a large percentage of what he does. Don’t see the suddenness needed to create early separation in releases. Overall athleticism is a question mark.
Not an explosive playmaker with the ball in his hands. Doesn’t have the elusiveness to make defenders miss in space, nor the burst to get vertical in a hurry. Can he be more than a one-trick pony in the NFL? And is that one-trick good enough to get him drafted high?