Speed and production always open eyes and, sometimes, open doors. That is what Javon Leake is hoping to do with the Giants. The former Maryland running back did not get taken in the NFL draft and he was one of 15 players the Giants agreed to terms with during the hectic undrafted free agent frenzy. …
Speed and production always open eyes and, sometimes, open doors. That is what Javon Leake is hoping to do with the Giants.
The former Maryland running back did not get taken in the NFL draft and he was one of 15 players the Giants agreed to terms with during the hectic undrafted free agent frenzy.
Can Leake make it with the Giants? Well, he has one significant trait that cannot be overlooked. He was sensational at returning kickoffs in college and in 2019 was named the Big Ten Return Specialist of the Year. He was third in the Football Bowl Subdivision with 804 return yards, averaging 26.8 yards per kickoff return, with two touchdowns. In his career at Maryland, Leake averaged 24.5 yards on his 59 returns and scored three touchdowns, including a 100-yard return.
As a running back, Leake is an outside threat. He saw his most action this past season, when he led the Terrapins with 736 rushing yards. His average gain of 7.9 yards in his career and 17 touchdowns showcase how much of a big-play threat he can be.
Leake was disappointing at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, clocking in at 4.65 in the 40-yard dash. He opted not to participate in running back position drills.
“Big-time kickoff return guy,’’ Dan Shonka, general manager and national scout at Ourlads Scouting Service, told The Post. “He’s got a lot of tread left in those tires. He’s not a real instinctive runner. Didn’t run good at the combine but he is fast, he’s a legit fast guy.
“Anybody who can return kicks like he does, with the speed he’s got, is gonna be an asset somewhere down the line. He’s a natural kickoff return guy.’’
It remains to be seen how much first-year coach Joe Judge, a former special teams coordinator with the Patriots, values a kickoff returner, as the NFL has successfully reduced the number of returns on average in a game. Leake at Maryland caught only 10 passes in three years, meaning he will have to prove he can be a threat as a pass-catcher out of the backfield to fill a third-down back role.
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The Giants will have to reduce their roster by five players in order to accommodate the 15 undrafted free agents.
The complete list:
WR Derrick Dillon, LSU
WR Austin Mack, Ohio State
WR Binjimen Victor, Ohio State
RB Javon Leake, Maryland
QB Case Cookus, Northern Arizona
TE Kyle Markway, South Carolina
WR/TE Rysen John, Simon Fraser (British Columbia)
LB Kyle Murphy, Rhode Island
EDGE Dana Levine, Temple
EDGE Niko Lalos, Dartmouth
CB Malcolm Elmore, Central Methodist
DB Christian Angulo, Hampton
OL Tyler Haycraft, Louisville
OLB Dominique Ross, North Carolina
DB Jaquarius Landrews, Mississippi State