2014 NFL Draft: Pre-Season Breakdown – Odell Beckham Jr, WR LSU

Nov 23, 2012; Fayetteville, AR, USA; LSU Tigers wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (3) on a kick return defended by Arkansas Razorbacks kicker Cameron Bryan (47) at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

LSU always seems to be loaded with tremendous athletes at the wide receiver position even if they tend to struggle to get them the ball.  Along with Jarvis Landry, they have another talented incoming junior in Odell Beckham Jr.  Landry is a good mix of speed and power while Beckham is speed, quickness, and more speed.  As a sophomore, Beckham caught 43 passes for 713 yards, 35 punt returns for 320 yards, 5 kick returns for 79 yards and 4 total touchdowns, 2 of which were on punt returns.

Beckham is always a threat with the ball in his hands, so both Beckham and the LSU offense need to get better at getting him the ball.  While Beckham is electric as a runner, he will drop too many passes and needs to expand his catch radius for him to take the next step as a player.  His value on special teams alone is remarkable going to the NFL, but he does offer good value as a wide receiver going forward if he can improve how he catches the football, he can be a top 100 pick and move further up from there.

Vitals & Build

Beckham is listed at 6′ 187lbs and while the height seems like it might be inflated slightly, he also plays smaller. He plays extremely low to the ground, which enables him to have great balance, body control and terrific feet. His burst and top end speed are impressive. Beckham’s potential is just adding strength to what he is already doing as a speed athlete.

Route Running & Technique

Beckham gets off of the line of scrimmage with a good burst and has the body control and footwork that enables him to be an excellent route runner. He is able to set up opponents and plant his foot in the ground to make a cut and create separation.  Beckham has shown ability to set up routes and should only improve as he gains more experience.  When he is on his game, he can be a nightmare for corners to deal with and maintain coverage. He has the speed to scare teams over the top so many opponents are scared to play up on him. He can eat up ground, but it enables him to be wide open underneath or coming back to the football.  With his height and skill set, he can play both on the outside and in the slot. LSU has used him far more on the outside but he clearly has the ability to be a problem for defenses on the inside.

Hands

As a pass catcher, Beckham is inconsistent. His catch radius is relatively average but he is always trying to push his limits and improve. He needs to be a more consistent pass catcher overall and ends up dropping too many passes. Some are as a result of concentration and trying to run before he has the ball but he will double catch as well, so he just needs to be better with his hands overall.  The good news is that Beckham is not afraid to go after the ball and catch it with his hands.  Occasionally, he allows passes to get into his body but he really does consistently try to catch the ball out of the air.  A combination of simply getting reps and improving his concentration as well as the strength in his hands, he should make steady improvements.

Run After Catch

After the catch, Beckham is a nightmare for defenses. At that point, he becomes unpredictable as he is not afraid to go outside, go inside or both in the same play.  LSU’s offense does not hesitate to give him some screens or short drags against teams that are afraid to play up on him as he can break a big play.  Beckham can do a better job of transitioning the ball from catching the ball to running with the ball.  He does not always put the ball away cleanly and there are times when the ball gets punched out because he does not carry it securely.  Between his explosiveness, agility, and outright speed, he is a terrific player in space and the type of athletic talent that make defensive coordinators hold their breath until he is down.

Special Teams

Beckham is a dynamic threat on special teams, especially when it comes to returning punts.  His acceleration, balance, and body control allow him to make opponents miss and he can flip the field. He sees the field well so he can anticipate where opponents are attacking from and adjust accordingly. Not only is he a scoring threat but the type of player that make teams think twice about kicking at him.  It might be an area where his statistics drop off of a cliff this year because opponents just refuse to kick to him, which is impressive considering he is still just a junior.

System Fit

Wherever Beckham ends up, he is immediately going to step in and return punts and likely kickoff a. He has game changing ability in that respect. He is best utilized as a receiver in a horizontal offense that allows him to make plays after the catch but he can test teams deep and even in a vertical offense, if he is in the slot, he is going to working with quick routes. The horizontal style could make use of him more effectively as they could use him more easily out wide, but Beckham is a playmaker with speed, so he will be on everyone’s radar.  New Orleans looks like a team that would love Beckham as well as St. Louis and Philadelphia.

2013 Schedule

Sat, August 31 vs. TCU
Sat, Sept. 7 vs. UAB
Sat, Sept. 14 vs. Kent State
Sat, Sept. 21 vs. Auburn
Sat, Sept. 28 at Georgia
Sat, Oct. 5 at Mississippi State
Sat, Oct. 12 vs. Florida
Sat, Oct. 19 at Ole Miss
Sat. Oct. 26 vs. Furman
Sat, Nov. 9 at Alabama
Sat, Nov. 23 vs. Texas A&M
Fri, Nov. 29 vs. Arkansas

Notable Games

Opening up against TCU matches them against a team that prides itself on defense and they have a talented corner in Jason Verrett that could see time against Beckham.  The game against Florida is intriguing for Beckham because it matches what he does best against what the Gator corners do best; speed and quickness.  Whether it is against Marcus Roberson or Loucheiz Purifoy, it comes down to who can use their speed and quickness better and should be a good matchup for both sides.  Alabama does not appear to have the corner play they have been able to count on in recent years, so it will be interesting to see if Beckham and Landry can take advantage and if they can get them the ball.

NFL Comparison

While it might be blasphemy to some, Beckham has ability like Devin Hester did coming out of Miami.  Beckham may not become the best returner of all time, but he certainly has an ability to make an impact in that area of the game and is a returner is appointment viewing.  The difference is Beckham looks far more able to contribute as a wide receiver, which is something Hester and players like Josh Cribbs could never make the adjustment to play on a regular basis, so while he might not end up as quite the returner Hester was, he could end up being a better overall player.

Draft Projection

Odell Beckham is a incredible athlete and while he can already showcase that on special teams, especially returning punts, he does have the potential to be a contributor as a wide receiver.  The special teams element alone might be worth an early day three pick, but his ability as a receiver will warrant a top 100 selection.  If he can improve his ability to catch the ball and expand his catch radius, he could move up significantly and be a wildcard on draft day due to all of the ways he could conceivably contribute for a team willing to use them.

Topics: 2014 Mock Draft, 2014 NFL Draft, LSU Tigers Football, Odell Beckham, Odell Beckham Jr, Wide Receivers

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