Odell Beckham is a Blossoming NFL Star


Throughout the process leading up to the 2014 NFL Draft, many wide receivers were touted as “elite” prospects that would make great next level players. Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, and Kelvin Benjamin were the three favorites among the media, but they too often left out arguably the most talented of them all: Odell Beckham.

Personally, I only viewed Watkins as a superior to Beckham, but even then, they were not too far apart in terms of talent and Beckham was still a top ten player in the class. Though such praise seemed extreme at the time, Beckham has started his ascension to prove his doubters wrong.

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Many thought Beckham was too short to be a high-caliber NFL receiver. Measuring in at just over 5’11”, analysts were scared that he may not be able to win vertically or physically. Likewise, there was concern that he had only scored 12 touchdowns in three years. Both of such “knocks” on him were flawed.

Sure, 5’11” and change is not ideal for an NFL No.1 receiver, but Beckham played so much bigger than he was. Beckham won in contested situations more often and high-pointed better than most almost every other receiver in the nation. Yes, that includes all of those flashy 6’5″ monsters that people tend to drool over.

The concern over production was even more outlandish. 12 touchdowns over three years sounds disappointing, but what many failed to realize is that Beckham made wonderful developmental strides from 2012 to 2013 that allowed him to score eight touchdowns in 2013, which is twice as many as he had scored over the past two seasons combined.

On film, Beckham was clearly a superior talent among his peers. He even ended up blowing up the NFL Combine in February, yet the general opinion on him was still that he was not No.1 receiver material. To the disapproval of many, the New York Giants selected Beckham, but it is now the doubters who look silly.Beckham was a superb collegiate talent and every bit of that ability has translated to the NFL level.

Unfortunately, Beckham battled hamstring issues through the first few weeks of the season, and even when he first got back, he looked a tad sluggish. That being said, Beckham has erupted onto the scene over the past two weeks in games against the Indianapolis Colts and the Seattle Seahawks, both of which teams have impressive secondaries.

Beckham had a slow start in week nine vs the Colts as he had an uncharacteristic loss at a tough catch point, as well as a flat out drop. Not long after those mishaps, Beckham became a menace to handle. While Vontae Davis (who has been arguably the best NFL cornerback this season) showed a good amount of success against Beckham, Greg Toler struggled, and Toler has had a solid season thus far.

The Colts seem to be in an “off” Cover 3 here, leaving a huge cushion between Toler and Beckham. Being the athlete he is, Beckham burned through the cushion quickly and got up to Toler. At that point, Beckham has to sell Toler on an outside move to create the room he will need over the middle, and he does.

Toler is playing tight coverage on Beckham here, but Beckham wins at both critical stages of this route. To begin the play, Beckham uses a hesitation/burst move to beat Toler off the line. With Toler trailing him, Beckham uses his quickness to turn his body and explode out of his break, making him a wide open target for Eli Manning. Though Manning throws a poor ball, Beckham goes up and snags it.

There is a only a handful of receivers who have the ability to make this catch, and Beckham is one of them. On this play, he does not create the separation that he needs to, but Manning forces the throw anyway. The throw was off target, but Beckham turns back, finds the ball, and makes an acrobatic reception over Darius Butler.

As would be expected, Beckham flashed all of his tools against the Seahawks, but there is no need to recap every one of his abilities like I did with the Colts game. To be fair, more of Beckham’s production in this game was manufactured through screens and swings, but even then, he did what was needed in those situations. Still, Beckham had two especially impressive plays that testify to what he can do.

In essence, this play against Richard Sherman is much like the play against Toler (above), but it is against…. Sherman. Everyone and their mother seems to think Sherman is an untouchable entity, yet here we see Beckham beating him in one-on-one coverage. Beckham even displays a hint of physicality with his subtle push-off after he turns up the field.

Funny to think Beckham could not win in contested situations, isn’t it? This ball is underthrown, but Beckham gets under it and plucks it out of the air with his massive ten inch hands. For reference, that is about 3/4ths of an inch larger than Calvin Johnson’s hands.

Odell Beckham has every tool necessary to be a weapon in this league. Beckham’s game is reminiscent of Antonio Brown’s,  though he does not possess quite as much open field ability. Nonetheless, Beckham is a complete receiver that is about to make every NFC East cornerback fear the thought of facing him on Sundays.