Of all the players who have improved their draft stock during the 2013 NCAA football season, LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has done one of the best jobs out of them all. Beckham’s name was not mentioned at all in first-round discussions prior to the season, but now he’s worked his way into them with his spectacular performance.
The junior has already far exceeded his totals in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns from last year, as he has 48 catches for 1009 yards and eight touchdowns nine games into the season. His return duties have been cut back this year, as he has 12 punt returns for 108 yards and a long of 60, with 25 kick returns for 616 yards and a long of 75.
Beckham could have gone without returning a punt or kick all year and still be considered an elite option as he averaged nearly 10 yards per punt return last year and ran back two for touchdowns.
Beckham Jr. has a very favorable style of play as he is consistently able to get open and catch the passes that are thrown to him. As if that weren’t enough, he seems to have an exceptional talent for getting into the end zone. While he doesn’t have the greatest amount of breakaway speed in the world, the speed that he does have makes for a lethal combination when combined with his powerful running style.
If there’s one thing that will limit Beckham’s attractiveness as a first-rounder, it will probably be his size. His 6-foot, 187-pound frame isn’t quite as sturdy as those of USC‘s Marqise Lee and Clemson‘s Sammy Watkins, and it’s a far cry for Mike Evans‘s 6-foot-5, 225-pound build. It will probably be difficult for Beckham to move ahead of Lee and Watkins because they put up great numbers prior to this season while Beckham has broken out this year.
There are at least four teams who have a great need for receiving help and could be in line to take wideouts in the first round. Several of these teams, however, including the Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens, have a particular need for big, sturdy receivers like Evans. If these teams feel the need to take a receiver, someone like Vanderbilt‘s Jordan Matthews may end up being a more attractive option.
That said, any team that gets Beckham will be getting a dynamic player who will be ready to contribute to both the offensive and return games immediately.
- Gets downfield quickly and is able to make big catches
- Talented punt returner
- Very good at getting into the endzone and hanging on to the ball
- Combines exceptional quickness with very powerful running style
- Very effective at catching the passes that are thrown his way
- Only area he seems to have a slight problem with is when he gets caught up in coverage near the sideline, leaving him susceptible to drops
- Has been less effective against elite competition; was held to two catches for 47 yards against Florida’s talented defensive backfield
Beckham has had a real breakout performance in 2013. He’s already put together over 1000 receiving yards while competing against some tough SEC opponents, most notably Florida, Georgia and Auburn. While his biggest impacts have come against weak opponents in UAB and Furman, Beckham has been a steady contributor all year and has had at least 100 receiving yards in five of LSU’s nine games thus far.
2014 Draft Projection: Second Round