Consider it a gift to the Cowboys if Odell Beckham Jr. is available at 16. In the scenario that the LSU product falls into our lap, Jerry Jones should select him with confidence. The premonition and incessant stance that the Cowboys must take a defensive lineman in the first round is flawed. Unless Aaron Donald or Anthony Barr is available when the Cowboys are on the clock, the case to draft Odell Beckham Jr. is a legitimate one. Every indication points towards the fact that Donald will be off the board. If Barr is there at 16, I still feel that Beckham's upside is too high to pass on. The decision to trade back would be electing to stockpile picks over selecting a franchise wide receiver if Beckham is available. Odell Beckham Jr. is definitively the 3rd best wide receiver in this class. The margin of his value as a prospect relative to Brandon Cooks and Marquise Lee is significant. The drop off from Odell Beckham Jr. relative to Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans isn't as much as everyone perceives. In my opinion Odell Beckham Jr. is the most versatile wide receiver to come out of the draft since Percy Harvin. Lets begin...
Measurables (official combine measurements): It's a misconception that Odell Beckham Jr. is a "small" wideout. He has adequate size to split wide and possesses the prototype build to play slot in the N.F.L. Here are some measurable comparisons to other wide receivers. Bold signifies the best number in each category.
|Player||Odell Beckham Jr.||Percy Harvin||Sammy Watkins||Antonio Brown||Terrance Williams|
|Arm length||32 3/4"||31 5/8"||32"||31"||31 3/4"|
|Weight||198 lb.||192 lb.||211 lb.||186 lb.||208 lb.|
|Hands||10"||9 3/8"||9 5/8"||9"||8 3/4"|
Conclusion: Odell Beckham Jr. has lengthier arms than Sammy Watkins. He has an elite wingspan for a w.r. under 6'0". I can understand the comparisons between Odell Beckham Jr. and Antonio Brown's skill set but he is a naturally bigger and lengthier than Brown. Beckham's body type is most similar to Percy Harvin with a compact muscular physique. Not naturally as strong as Percy but is slightly lengthier. Beckham's hands are actually bigger than Dez Bryant's, which measured 9 ¾. Beckham's 10" mitts are very evident in watching his tape. He is able to pluck balls out of the air effortlessly with strength and control. Beckham's gifted hand size allows him to highpoint balls in traffic and effectively make back shoulder catches. Beckham's arm length is also apparent on film giving him a large catch radius. He has a knack for catching badly thrown balls that seem out of reach. Terrance Williams at 6'2" has significantly smaller hands than Beckham. William's primary weakness in his game is that he secures many of the balls thrown to him with his body. Terrance William's relative small hand size does play a factor in hindering him to become a natural hands catcher. Granted, Odell Beckham Jr. needs to work on consistency with his hands, but he has the work ethic to refine his craft. Here are some quick highlights where Beckham utilizes his innate physical gifts.
Combine: Odell Beckham Jr.'s combine numbers justifies his natural elusiveness on tape, which is a critical component of playing slot in the league. More impressive than any of his results was his field drills in Indianapolis. I viewed the entire portion of w.r. field drills and Beckham's routes were more impressive than anyone invited. Granted it's on air but you wont find anyone in this draft class that runs a more beautiful route tree. I thought it would be interesting to compare his combine numbers to versatile slot receivers. These are official combine numbers with the exception of Victor Cruz, which were recorded at his pro day. Bold signifies the best result in each drill.
|Player||Odell Beckham Jr.||Victor Cruz||Randall Cobb||Tavon Austin||Dwayne Harris|
|40 yd. dash||4.43||4.47||4.46||4.34||4.55|
|3 Cone Drill||6.69||6.96||7.08||N/A||6.77|
|20 yd. shuttle||3.94||4.7||4.34||4.01||4.21|
|60 yd. shuttle||10.93||11.68||11.68||11.68||11.68|
Conclusion: Not included in the graph above is that Beckham ran a 1.50 second 10 yard split in the 40. That was faster than Sammy Watkin's 1.53 and was near the top of all wide receiver's. The 3 cone tests an athlete's ability to change direction and the shuttle's gauge an athlete's lateral quickness and explosion. Breaking 4 seconds in the 20 yard shuttle is absolutely freakish. Odell Beckham's terrific numbers in these categories merely validated what you see in his tape. He possesses a dynamic ability to accelerate quickly out of breaks and fluidly turn his hips with explosion and control. I went back to look at Randall Cobb's Kentucky college tape and Victor Cruz's pro tape and compared them to Odell Beckham's strictly from an athletic and body movement perspective.
Odell Beckham Jr. is naturally more explosive breaking in and out of his routes than Cobb. He is more dynamic in the run-after-catch also. He utilizes his entire body when changing direction to make defenders miss. Both Cobb and Beckham are equivalent at performing natural body adjustments to make challenging catches. I thought Beckham's acceleration and lateral movement working in tight spaces is more equivalent to that of Victor Cruz. Beckham and Cruz's running form are similar in that they both run slightly square in their base. Both athletes have incredible balance in all facets of there game. Odell Beckham's top end speed is better than both Cobb and Cruz.
I was surprised to see minimal difference between the quick twitch ability of Tavon Austin and Odell Beckham Jr. in comparing tape. Beckham possesses the same first step ability with the ball in his hands in the open field despite being a bigger athlete. Tavon Austin has an edge with his shiftiness but Beckham has plethora of juke moves in his repertoire. Odell Beckham doesn't possess Tavon Austin's top end speed but he is capable of separating from d.b.'s at the next level. The athletic comparison most suited for Odell Beckham Jr. once again is Percy Harvin. Percy didn't do the events at combine but he ran a 4.41, almost exactly the same time as Odell. Percy Harvin is slightly more fluid overall but they both have that rare combination of acceleration, balance, and quickness. This similarity surfaces when you watch their kickoff and punt return tape. It's hard to define but Harvin and Beckham can kick into that rare gear where you see the instant they explode into it. Below exhibits that special gear in a punt return. Beckham leaves both his feet to side hurdle a defender without losing any speed than explodes out of cannon upfield...
Odell Beckham's College production and tape: This past season in his junior campaign, Beckham averaged a ridiculous 19.5 yards per catch on 59 receptions. He finished with 1152 yards and 8 touchdowns. Beckham received the Paul Hornburg award given to the nations most versatile player. Beckham led the S.E.C. with 182.2 all-purpose yards per game. His single season of 2,222 yards gives him the record for LSU and ranks third all time for the SEC single season record. He is only behind Randall Cobb with 2,396 yards and Darren McFadden with 2,310 yards. Beckham's athletic and playmaking ability has already been well documented throughout this piece. What you also get with Beckham is fierceness and competitiveness. He seeks out blocks and you can tell that he enjoys contact. Beckham embraces critical moments in the game and often comes up with big plays at pivotal times. He has been durable throughout his career and been praised for being a hard worker and having great character.
5 reasons to take Odell Beckham at 16. Don't trade back Jerry!
5. There is value drop in defensive line after Aaron Donald and Anthony Barr: The depth of this defensive line class is in the second round in my opinion. I don't see value in picking a player like Timmy Jernigan or Kony Ealy at 16. Relative to drafts in others years, the 2014 draft is weak for defensive lineman in the mid rounds. Last year Sheldon Richardson went 13, Star Lotulelei went 14, and Sharrif Floyd at 21. In 2012, Michael Brockers went 14, Quinton Coples went 16, and Chandler Jones at 21. The defensive line prospects in the mid round of the N.F.L. draft in the past 2 years are of better quality than the prospects that potentially are available this year. By taking Odell Beckham Jr., the Cowboys will effectively target the strength of this draft, which is at wide receiver.
4. Acquiring a versatile slot wide receiver is not a luxury pick: Possessing a #1 and #2 receiver along with a slot is what an effective offense in the N.F.L. should possess in a passing league. Dwayne Harris and Cole Beasley are average at best in the slot and will eventually have to be replaced. This by definition is a hole for the Dallas Cowboys that needs to be addressed.
3. Scott Linehan's playbook: Tony Romo attempted 42 passes of 21 or more air yards in 2013, ranking 17th in the league. Geno Smit and Carson Palmer went deep more times than Romo. This number is destined to double with our new offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. In 2002 Linehan's first season with Vikings, Daunte Culpepper attempted 85 passes of 20 or more yards more than any other q.b. that year. Linehan went to St. Louis in 2006 and Marc Bulger led the league with 77 pass attempts of 21 or more yards in his first year under the new OC. His next prodigy, Matthew Stafford, aired out the second highest number of long passes at 85 times in 2012. If the Cowboys add Odell Beckham Jr. this will be the most complete core of wide receivers Scott Linehan has worked with in his career. The addition of another home run threat in Beckham opens up his creative playbook even more. Callahan got his guy in Travis Frederick and I guarantee Linehan is in Jerry's ear about Odell Beckham Jr.
2. Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, and Jason Witten: Cowboys are on the verge of inking Dez Bryant to a long-term contract. Why not line him up next to a weapon like Beckham that will make it impossible for defenses to key in on him? Last year, there were several contests where defenses were successful in taking Dez out of the game. Terrance Williams appears to be the Cowboys answer at #2 but he does not possess the ability to play slot. He is strictly an X or Z w.r. Beckham has the ability to be moved around in different offensive formations with no restrictions. Tony Romo's best friend in the offense, Jason Witten, is 31 years old. The security blanket in the Dallas Cowboys game is about that age when you see a decline. The next best thing to a solid tight end is a dependable slot. I don't strictly see Odell Beckham as a big play weapon. I see the potential and skill set to record 80 receptions a year and a player who Romo can look to in crucial conversions.
1. Odell Beckham Jr. is the best available player: If the Cowboys load up with defensive lineman in this draft it will merely please fans for a year. All those clamoring for a defensive lineman or bust this year will be putting a slot wideout at the top of their needs for 2015. Odell Beckham Jr. is as prototype as it gets to play the Y position in the N.F.L. If he is there at 16, the Cowboys phone will be ringing off the hook for him. Eagles and 49ers lead the list of a handful of teams linked with interest in Beckham. Last year, the Cowboy's trade with the Niners currently looks like it will pan out from a value standpoint . However, the bottom line is that we passed on a franchise safety in Eric Reid. Beckham is a star in the making and a potential franchise wide receiver. He will start immediately and become an asset to the Cowboy's return game. If we pass on Beckham in any scenario this year, it will haunt the organization and fans for years. I just hope Jerry and his staff has the same confidence that I have in Odell Beckham Jr.