The New York Giants have wasted little time getting the ball rolling this offseason, making extensive additions to their roster via reserve/futures contracts. On Thursday they made yet another move, inking former second-round draft pick Breeland Speaks to such a deal.
Speaks entered the NFL in 2018, as the Kansas City Chiefs nabbed the Ole Miss product with the No. 46 overall selection. Not owning a first-round pick that year as part of a deal to move up and snag Patrick Mahomes the year prior, Speaks was actually Kansas City’s top pick of the class and subsequently the first draft choice that Brett Veach ever made as general manager of the team.
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Speaks Offers Position Flexibility & Upside
Checking-in at 6-foot-3-inches, 285-pounds, Speaks offers substantial position flexibility. Entering the league as a 3-4 edge rusher, the now 25-year-old has experience playing outside linebacker, defensive end and defensive tackle throughout his collegiate and pro career.
Speaks quickly made waves in the Chiefs organization, carving out a sizeable role in his first NFL season. He went on to appear in all 16 games for Kansas City in 2018 (four starts). Operating mostly as a rotational pass-rusher behind the likes of Justin Houston and Dee Ford, Speaks finished the year with a respectable stat line of 24 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, eight quarterback hits, three tackles for loss, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. He also appeared in two playoff games that year, logging a total of 48 snaps over Kansas City’s postseason run.
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Injuries & Weight Issues Have Hurt Speaks’ Career
After appearing in all 16 games as a rookie, Speaks has not taken an NFL snap since.
The pass-rusher’s 2019 campaign ended before it ever really began. Speaks arrived at training camp, by most accounts, overweight and out of shape that year. Images of his hefty frame set Chiefs Nation ablaze for all the wrong reasons, as he looked to be joining Leveon Kirkland as the NFL’s next 300-pound linebacker.
I wanted to believe…I truly did… pic.twitter.com/wB32u1cYSB
— Arrowhead Live (@ArrowheadLive) May 21, 2019
Speaks would go on to suffer an MCL sprain and meniscus tear during the Chiefs’ second preseason game, ending his season on the spot. Speaks underwent surgery to repair his knee injury, spending the entirety of his second NFL season on injured reserve. To make matters worse, while occupying I.R., Speaks was slapped with a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on substance abuse.
Speaks returned the following season with a different mindset and a slimmed-down figure in hopes of re-establishing his once-promising presence along the Chiefs’ front-seven.
“It just changed up the mindset this offseason,” Speaks said, via Sports Illustrated. “[I] just went back to, I guess, what got me right in the beginning — or what I had been used to growing up, which I know works… It helped me a lot.”
— Issac Gross (@Big_Gross_94) June 30, 2020
Despite Speak’s commitment to bettering himself, it wasn’t enough to earn him a roster spot. Speaks was unceremoniously waived as part of the team’s final roster cuts in September of 2020. He spent this past season splitting time between stints on both the Las Vegas Raiders and Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad.
Before entering the league, Speaks earned Second-Team All-SEC honors with Ole Miss during his final collegiate season. The then-junior amassed 7.0 sacks and eight tackles for loss in 11 games while listed as a defensive tackle for the Rebels.
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