American Football

Is Ashton Dulin a free-agent option for the Giants’ receiving corps?

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NFL: JAN 08 Texans at Colts
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The wide receiver situation for the New York Giants has long been a point of emphasis and it’s not for a lack of trying. The Giants spent a 2021 first-round pick on Kadarius Toney after investing a $72 million contract to Kenny Golladay during the 2021 free-agent period — neither player was a factor one year later.

The Giants suffered a slew of unfortunate injuries throughout their receiving corps in 2022. Both Sterling Shepard and Wan’Dale Robinson tore their ACLs, and Collin Johnson tore his Achilles in training camp.

Isaiah Hodgins, Richie James, and Darius Slayton did their best, but the position still needs an infusion of talent, and that can be acquired through the draft or via cheap veteran free agents. Ideally, the Giants will select a receiver early in the draft, but adding veteran talent is wise since James, Shepard, and Slayton are all free agents.

The basics

Age: 26 in the 2023 season
Height: 6-foot-1 | Weight: 215
Position: Wide Receiver
Experience: 4 seasons
2022 stats: 12 games | Targets: (20) | Receptions: (15) | Yards: (207) | Yards per Catch (13.8) | Touchdowns: (1) | Interceptions: (1) | Catch Percentage: (75%) |

The skinny

The Giants lacked speed quantity in their 2022 wide receiving corps. Darius Slayton possessed the speed to stretch the field vertically, but other Giants’ receivers didn’t threaten defensive backs as much with their athletic traits. Adding a cheap big-play veteran option could be a way to liven up the Giants’ receiving corps before the 2023 NFL Draft, and the Indianapolis Colts’ Ashton Dulin is a name that makes sense.

Giants’ current wide receiver coach Mike Groh spent two years in Indianapolis as Dulin’s position coach. Familiarity is always important, provided the player checks the necessary boxes. That importance was on display with this current coaching staff; one reason why Marcus Johnson was a Giant was due to his experience with Groh.

His role with the Colts didn’t necessary showcase his skill-set. Indianipolis’ has rotated through veteran quarterbacks since Dulin arrived in 2019; Dulin caught passes from Jacoby Brissett in 2019, Phillip Rivers in 2020, Carson Wentz in 2021, and Matt Ryan in 2022. The situation was unstable.

Indianapolis was also a team predicated on running the football. Jonathan Taylor lead the league in rushing during the 2021 season; this helped Dulin have success with the play action passing attack, but Dulin only caught 13 passes that season. Both his touchdowns in 2021 were off the play-action including a 62-yard deep post shot where Dulin’s speed was leveraged.

Dulin has 33 catches on 49 career targets for 450 yards (13.6 yards per catch) with three touchdowns. Dulin spent Weeks 6-9 on the Injured Reserve with a foot injury. He also missed Week 17 with a concussion.

Dulin also has experience playing special teams. Through his career, he has 877 special teams snaps with 28 tackles – 14 in 2021, which ranked second in the NFL that season. Furthermore, Dulin operated as a kick returner for the Colts during his first three seasons.

Dulin is a fast receiver with good acceleration and explosiveness in and out of his breaks. Adding Dulin could be a way to bring in more explosive athletes for an offense that ranked last in explosive plays. This type of addition would resemble the John Ross signing from 2021.

Ross had a much higher pedigree with more deep speed than the undrafted Dulin, but he spent much of the season injured and could not consistently find the football field. Ross caught 11 of 19 passes for 224 yards (20.4 YPC) and one touchdown for the Giants that season.

My ideal path to replenishing the receiver position is more oriented to the draft, but there’s utility in cheap veteran additions, especially ones who weren’t maximized. Dulin fits that description, and could be an interesting name come free agency.

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