Cleveland Browns: Can a healthy Odell Beckham Jr. meet expectations?

Odell Beckham Jr. is healthy and ready for year two with the Cleveland Browns.

With very few exceptions, there was nowhere to look last offseason that wasn’t enamored by the Cleveland Browns. Yes, it was to varying degrees but, as the organization traded for wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. amidst other high-profile moves and a young roster on the rise, they were the toast of the NFL town.

We all know how that worked out.

Among the many issues that plagued the Browns in the 2020 season — Baker Mayfield regressing, the offensive line turning to dust, Freddie Kitchens being an outright disaster, etc. — Beckham wasn’t himself. Yes, he had 74 receptions for 1,035 yards and four touchdowns — but he bettered those numbers with the Giants in 2018 when he played in only 12 games.

Part of the issue may have been not being on the same page as Mayfield or Kitchens. However, Beckham also dealt with a sports hernia injury throughout the entire year, which could only hurt his output. He had surgery in January to repair a core muscle and has been rehabbing since. Now that training camp is just over a month away from beginning on July 28, Beckham appears ready to go.

New head coach Kevin Stefanski, per Cleveland.com, recently spoke to the media and said that Beckham was all the way ready to go for training camp and that the wide receiver is “free and clear” for any and everything that will be thrown at him.

Healthy and with what appears to be a functional coaching staff now in place, there is some renewed hope for the Browns and Beckham. But the question is if the three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver is going to live up to the massive expectations placed on him or if he’ll again be a letdown in Cleveland.

Will Odell Beckham Jr. live up to the hype for the Cleveland Browns?

At 27 years old, there should be no doubting what a healthy Odell Beckham Jr. is still capable of on a football field. This is a player who, in his first 42 games with the Giants in his career, racked up 288 receptions for 4,122 yards and 35 touchdowns. Injuries have hampered him in the three years since but that type of game-changing talent is still there.

Perhaps the biggest factors in whether or not Beckham is able to realize his potential with the Browns are out of the wide receiver’s hands. It first starts with Stefanski. When Kitchens took over, there was talk of Cleveland blowing the doors off the rest of the league with their offense. In reality, it was a half-baked idea that got away from what worked. From what we saw of Stefanski in Minnesota, that won’t be the case under his watch.

More than that, he needs Mayfield to be better. This is a critical year for the quarterback, his third in the NFL, as he tries to prove he’s the franchise guy. For that to happen, he must take better care of the football and consistently put his receivers in position, Beckham especially, where they can make plays.

What may help Mayfield and, thus, OBJ more than anything is the improved offensive line. The additions of right tackle Jack Conklin and left tackle Jedrick Wills could be hugely important in giving Mayfield more time and allowing him to process things even for a split-second longer to make right decisions without running for his life.

Next: 2018 NFL Redraft: Lamar saves Cleveland

Yes, the first year of Beckham in Cleveland was a bust for the player and the team. But year two, with the buzz lessened on a national scale, we might see something akin to what we expected a year ago. A healthy OBJ and an improved offense and coaching staff is the runway for the star wide receiver to take flight once again.

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