Giants ‘Hidden Gem’ Has Joe Judge Excited

Giants' UDFA RB Javon Leake earning Joe Judge's Praise

Getty UDFA Javon Leake of the New York Giants

If you know anything about New York Giants‘ Joe Judge, he keeps his playing cards close to his chest. It took the first-year head coach two months to even publicly acknowledge his perceived franchise quarterback, Daniel Jones, upon his early-June hiring.

However, even he can’t deny what undrafted free agent running back Javon Leake has been able to put on film thus far in training camp.

“Starting with Leake, he’s a guy who’s really coming on right now,” Judge said following Big Blue’s scrimmage on Friday. “He’s feeling more comfortable within the system and scheme. He’s doing a good job of taking coaching points from [running backs coach] Burton [Burns] to the field. He’s a guy that’s very in-tune at meetings, paying attention. You can see that with him. He’s improved on a daily basis.”

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Leake to Beat Out Wayne Gallman, Dion Lewis?

Running back Wayne Gallman has been Saquon Barkley’s primary backup for each of the past two seasons. However, a combination of injures, ball security issues and decreased efficiency has placed the fourth-year pro squarely on the roster bubble.

Bleacher Report recently pegged the former Clemson standout as the Giants player most likely to be traded ahead of the regular season. This comes on the heels of ESPN proclaiming Gallman “doesn’t have a role on the roster.”

A big part of Gallman’s uncertainty as it pertains to his employment in New York has much to do with the offseason addition of free-agent signee Dion Lewis. The former Tennessee Titan has averaged an impressive 4.8 yards per carry over his past five seasons. Gallman, on the other hand, has topped 3.8 yards per carry since his rookie campaign back in 2017.

Yet, despite Lewis’ sound production, even his placement on the Giants’ depth chart is not safe, thanks in large part to New York’s newfound “hidden gem.”

One anonymous personnel executive went on record earlier this offseason noting that “Lewis provides a change of pace in a niche role the Giants didn’t have last season.” The exec added Lewis “might have something left” despite being 29 years old. However, he also proclaimed that “the undrafted rookie [Javon] Leake has a chance to beat him out.”

While beating out Lewis will likely prove more difficult for Leake than supplanting Gallman, it’s clear the undrafted free agent has firmly placed himself in the mix for a roster spot thus far in training camp.

Scoring a rushing touchdown every 8.5 carries throughout your collegiate career, as Leake did during his Maryland days, certainly helps as well. The player who DraftWire pegged “a Tevin Coleman clone,” ahead of the 2020 NFL Draft, brings game-breaking traits to the Giants’ backfield that have been M.I.A. behind Barkley throughout the Pro Bowler’s two-year career.

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