The New York Giants played Roster Roulette a season ago when Saquon Barkley was injured. Rather than sign a veteran running back when several were available the Giants promoted undrafted free agent rookie Jon Hilliman from the practice squad.
Hilliman gained valuable experience with Barkley and then Wayne Gallman injured, carrying 30 times for 91 yards over three games, but fumbled twice and generally showed he still had much to learn to be an NFL player.
Hilliman is back for another go-round with the Giants in 2020. Will he be able to grow from last season’s experience and prove to a new coaching staff that he should be kept around, or will he be one-and-done as a Giant?
Let’s take a closer look.
Position: Running back
Contract: Year 1 of two-year, $1.532 million contract | RFA: 2022
How he got here
Hilliman spent four seasons at Boston College and played at Rutgers in 2018 as a graduate transfer. After a promising freshman year, his college career fizzled.
Hilliman ended up with 696 collegiate carries for 2,575 yards, 3.7 yards per carry. His best season was 2014 when, as a freshman at Boston College he gained 860 yards on 211 carries (4.1 yards per carry). For Rutgers in 2018, Hilliman carried only 83 times for 337 yards (4.1 per carry).
Despite his lack of collegiate success, the Giants gave Hilliman a chance as an undrafted free agent. He earned a spot on the practice squad, and was thrust into the limelight when first Saquon Barkley and then Wayne Gallman suffered injuries.
After having a fumble returned for a touchdown in a Week 6 game against the New England Patriots, Hilliman was waived. He rejoined the Giants’ practice squad and stayed there the remainder of the season.
Hilliman would seem to have an uphill battle to earn a second season with the Giants. Barkley, Dion Lewis, and Gallman would appear to be ahead of Hilliman.
The Giants also signed intriguing undrafted free agent Javon Leake, who had only 145 carried in three seasons for the Maryland Terrapins, but averaged 7.9 yards per rushing attempt.
If you want to talk about roster bubble players, Hilliman would definitely be a player on the bubble. He will need a good camp to convince Joe Judge and Jason Garrett to keep him around. Hilliman has a chance, especially since you would be right to wonder about the team’s commitment to Gallman, but Hilliman has work to do in order to earn a place on the 2020 Giants.