You know that annoying Top 100 NFL players list that was voted on by the players, and seems to constantly pop up all over the place? You know, Giants fans… the one that doesn’t include Eli Manning? (I kid, I kid). Anyone that looks at that list tries to find that one player that just seems way out of place, and says, “Seriously? That guy made the Top 100 over (fill in the name of a player on your favorite team)?!?” Well, that guy, sitting comfortably at number 65, is Texans FB Vonta Leach. He’s so unknown that in the highlight video the NFL put together of him, they spelled his name wrong (they spelled it ‘Vontae’), and proceeded to pull the video down and have it re-directed to Brandon Marshall’s feature instead, presumably until they corrected it.
I’ll admit, I did a double-take when I saw Leach’s name there, so naturally, I did a little research on him. First of all, let me say that there’s no way in hell he should be on this list at all, much less at 65th. According to Pro Football Focus, he played in just 38.3% of the Texans offensive snaps in 2010. His season high for receiving yards is 155, and he has a grand total of 3 career carries. He’s strictly a lead blocker, albeit an awesome one. I’m sorry, but there’s no way a lead-blocking FB that plays in less than 40% of his team’s snaps should ever sniff the Top 100 players in the NFL, but it’s really impressive that his peers think so highly of him.
I took a look at some tape of the Eagles-Texans game this past season, and what I saw from Leach was impressive. He’s extremely physical, stays on his blocks nicely, and tries to get his man on the ground. He completely dominated Ernie Sims on several occasions. (I know, Sims isn’t exactly Patrick Willis, but it’s what I had to work with). He reminded me a little bit of Lorenzo Neal. To see Leach in action, simply look up any Arian Foster highlight reel on YouTube and keep your eyes fixed on #44.
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Leach will be an unrestricted free agent when this lockout nonsense is over, and I think he’d be a perfect fit for the Giants. The Giants of 2007 and 2008 would get a lead, and then just wear you out physically with the trio of Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward, and Ahmad Bradshaw. But the key part of that equation was FB Madison Hedgecock, who was in the prime of his career and was opening up holes at the line of scrimmage. However, Hedgecock’s play tailed off in 2009, and his 2010 season was cut short when the Giants placed him on IR after Week 4. Bear Pascoe was forced to fill in from his TE spot and did so admirably, but Leach would be a huge upgrade, as that strong FB play has been missing badly the past two years.
The Giants would probably have to overpay to get him. Leach is seeking to be the highest paid FB in the NFL, a title currently held by the Eagles’ Leonard Weaver, and current teammate Andre Johnson is already lobbying hard to keep him in Houston. Then again, even if you have to overpay for a FB, it’s not as if you’re really breaking the bank.