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Mailbag: Impact of rookie class on 2020 season


Bill in New York: I have done some research on Javon Leake and think he will be a steal as a free agent signing. Both for his return skills and as an offensive weapon. I know it's early but I'd like to get your take on him now and updates as you watch him in training camp.

John Schmeelk: Leake was part of a time-share backfield at Maryland. He was the big-play speed back of the group. His usage was limited in his three seasons as a Terrapin. He only had double-digit touches on offense in three of his 32 career games. He did average 7.2 yards per carry in his final season, which was third best in the FBS amongst players with at least 100 carries.

Most of his production came on special teams, where he had three kick returns for touchdowns in his final two seasons and was named Big Ten Kick Returner of the Year in 2019. He could factor as a kick returner early in his Giants career.

Leake only ran a 4.65 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, which is probably what made him available for the Giants as an undrafted free agent.

Tom in Florida: Do you think rookie offensive linemen Matt Peart and Shane Lemieux will be used as short yardage tight ends? Could Lemieux be a goal line fullback? He was a high school TE. It might allow the Giants to carry 3 TE's.

John Schmeelk: The Giants are going to carry a minimum of three tight ends, and they could carry four, regardless of whether their linemen can serve as an extra tight end in short yardage situations. Evan Engram, Kaden Smith and Levine Toilolo are all likely to be in that group, assuming they are all healthy when training camp breaks. Linemen are often used as eligible tight ends, and it wouldn't surprise me to see the Giants do that this year, though Toilolo will likely be a staple in those situations. Lemieux playing fullback on the goal line is an interesting idea. The Patriots have used defensive players to play fullback before. Linebacker Elandon Roberts did it for them last year and caught a touchdown pass. Linebacker Mike Vrabel caught eight touchdowns for the Patriots during his career. We'll see if Joe Judge brings that wrinkle with him from New England.

View photos of the entire 10-member New York Giants 2020 Draft Class

Kevin in Florida: Where do you see Andrew Thomas getting the most work on the offensive line? They say Peart needs a season or two of work before making a contribution? What are your thoughts on that?

Sam in New York: Who will start at right tackle for the Giants this season?

John Schmeelk: Thomas will compete at both the right and left tackle spots. Given Nate Solder's history and experience at left tackle, I would guess he starts there with Thomas playing the right side. I can't call that more than a guess since there have been no on-field workouts.

As for Matt Peart, he needs to get a lot stronger and work on his technique, which is why he might need time before earning a starting spot. I think asking him to contribute in his rookie season and play over Solder, Thomas and Cameron Fleming is asking a lot. If he develops and adds weight, there is no telling what he can do in his second season.

George in New York: I know this might not be the most important question, but when are the Giants going back to their red uniforms? I love them so much

John Schmeelk: I have some bad news for you George. I would not anticipate seeing the red jerseys anytime soon. I don't have any official information, but I haven't heard even a whisper about them returning.

Johan in New Jersey: Which player do you see leading the team in sacks?

John Schmeelk: If I had to guess which player will lead the Giants in sacks this year, it would be Kyler Fackrell. He is the only player on the roster with a season of double-digit sacks. Oshane Ximines is a possibility if he can make a big jump in his second season. He was a very productive collegiate pass rusher. Lorenzo Carter would also be a consideration here.

View photos of every undrafted free agent signed by the Giants.


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