As you look at Odell at the next level, can you give us some specifics of what he brings to an offense?
A lot. He's an explosive athlete both as a runner and a leaper. Beckham may not have that super elite next gear like, say, DeSean Jackson, but he can kick it up better than most. I think what stood out to me is that he seems to hit full speed in a hurry. He accelerates with the best of them. As such, it makes him a tremendous option in space. You can use him in the screen game and his change of direction ability and vision will generate big plays. He can turn short catches into big gains, something he did many times in his LSU career.
His speed also allows him to get vertical. He can take the top off a defense and stretch the field so underneath targets can find space, something we frequently saw for Jarvis Landry this year.
But it'd be criminal to simplify him into your run-of-the-mill burner type. He's an extremely polished route runner. It's something he's taken pride in perfecting. He improved every year he was on campus, upping his YPC by 8 total yards (11.6 to 19.6), though QB play can be attributed to some of that. He's one of a very small pool of WRs at LSU to catch 40 passes in each of his first three seasons, one of two to do it as a true freshman. He's a guy that seems to just keep getting better.
He's also got a tremendous set of mitts. As a true freshman he battled drops a bit, but you could tell early on it was more of a focus issue. He's always consistently extended and plucked the ball in the air. He's a true hands catcher, that doesn't often let the ball get into his body.
Because of all this, I think he's a guy who can be an effective move piece/space player, but also excel on the outside. He could even factor into the running game, if given the opportunities, because he's tremendous in the open field with the ball in his hands.
What are some concerns or limitations you have about his ability to succeed at the NFL level?
People will nitpick his size, but I don't see that as a major issue because he's got long arms and great leaping ability, which increases his catch radius. He knows how to use his body to shield defenders away.
I think the biggest issue will just be getting stronger so that he can handle the press from bigger defenders. If he's going to become a consistent outside threat, he'll need to continue to improve his functional strength. That said, he's got the toughness and even shown a propensity for it as a down field blocker. I think it'll be an adjustment for him, but one he can overcome due to his great work ethic. If he doesn't, he's strictly a slot guy and a moving piece.
The only other issue that sometimes plagued him at LSU were occasional lapses in concentration. I think it was mostly a matter of him just trying to force the issue and create big plays. He's not a guy that will simply checkout if he's not targeted early and often. He's a team player that will happily block for others. So I don't see it as a guy not being engaged so much as just overly anticipating the next step before making the last one.
For those who haven't watched Odell on special teams, does he have strong pro potential as a returner?
Definitely, especially on kickoffs. He banged out over 800 yards at about 27 yards a return this year. His major moment was returning a missed FG for 109 yards and a TD vs. UAB, but he ripped off plenty more sizable returns. Back when we had Trindon Holliday there was always the looming threat he could take one to the house. But also that he'd get about five yards and bury us deep. Or fumble. Beckham was a little different in that he pretty consistently put us out over the 25. He never returned a KO for a TD in his career, though. Plus, you might get to see him do this:
He did this many, many times, BTW.
On punts, I'm a little more leery. His career average is right around nine yards, and while he has two TDs, there's also the memorable drop/fumble vs. Georgia this year, right when it seemed we were taking control of the game. That could be related back to the focus issue mentioned above. He's a solid returner and you could certainly do worse there, but my guess is he won't be major factor on punt returns.
If you had to guess at draft status, where do you see him landing?
Seems like most have him pegged in the late teens and early 20s, but I could see him going earlier. Mike Detillier, a guy who I think is a pretty smart analyst, says no way he slips outside the top 20. Just looking at the draft order, you can see potential fits all through teams 10-20. The Titans, the Rams, the Giants, the Ravens, and the Jets could all use a boost at WR. I think he'll be a player Chip Kelly likes a lot. Whether or not the Eagles try and move up, not sure.
He makes a ton of sense in Kansas City too, obviously. But you may have to move up a few picks to nab him. I think Eagles / Chiefs are both teams to watch for him.
Do you have a favorite moment or memory of watching Odell play?
I'm about as big of an Odell Beckham Jr. mark as there is. I would say a large portion of our fan base feels about Jarvis Landry the way I do about Beckham. I wrote about him dating back to his days as a recruit.
It's hard to pick a single moment. His catch vs. Iowa is one of those plays that reminds just exactly how stinkin' good he is.
But his punt return vs. Ole Miss in 2012 is one that truly stands out. Eighty-nine yards when the team is down seven at home to an inferior opponent. He saved the game.
f you don't remember, it was also a play discussed by Miles in one of his insane post-game press conferences that also inspired this great, great LSUfreek gif.
[Many thanks to Paul Crewe for taking the time to answer our questions. Check out his work over at And the Valley Shook.]