Little man with big hands: if you want a way to describe the talented junior out of LSU, then that is what you would say.
I am a firm believer that the Panthers need to go receiver in the first round above everything else and right now I am in the middle of a man crush on Odell Beckham. At 5’11, 198 Beckham is a tad bit undersized for today’s NFL, but his overall skill set is something that all talented smaller wide receivers in the NFL have like DeSean Jackson and Steve Smith: they run great routes and have great hands.
When watching Beckham’s tape, the first thing that sticks out to me is his route running ability. This is a trait you have to love in any college wide out. In most game tape he is usually always wide open, showing his ability to beat college defensive backs and the talent to do it at the next level as well.
I love watching him attack the ball in the air and before it reaches his body and pulling it in with his hands. One of my main issues with a wide receiver is when he cannot catch the ball with his hands, if he has to use his body more times than not, then that usually means he will struggle at the next level catching the ball with NFL quality defenders on him. This is an issue Beckham clearly does not have.
Once he catches the ball, good luck catching him. He is a natural at getting yards after the catch, something I believe a true starting receiver in the NFL needs to be able to do. He is perfect to fill the void left by Steve Smith. I can see Beckham catching a cut-back pass, and juking the defender out of his shoes for the touchdown like Smitty used to.
Many people who have scouted Beckham have more than likely seen his quarterback Zach Mettenberger, a prospect who I am less than impressed with. The biggest issue that Mettenberger has is something that I think helps Beckham in his draft stock, accuracy. Mettenberger’s arm is terribly inaccurate and you can see how difficult a lot of Beckham’s catches are when they really do not have to be. It is a situation similar to Keenan Allen last year whose college play was hurt by his quarterback at California before becoming a star with Phillip Rivers. Just imagine what Odell Beckham Jr. is capable of when catching passes from Cam Newton.
While Beckham does have his faults, they are not any that I think will hinder him in the pros. Before the combine, many scouts harped on is his lack of ability to catch jump balls and his straight line speed. His combine 40-yard dash should silence any doubters of his speed, running a 4.31. While he did struggle at times on jump balls I saw plenty of instances where he went up and beat a defender mid-air for the ball, and I think having a better quarterback like Newton would also help Beckham with that weakness.
Having another NFL quality wide receiver in Jarvis Landry helped take pressure off of him and allowed him more opportunities to shine. While here in Carolina he would not have much help from his fellow pass catchers, I still believe in time he will grow into a number one receiver. I would expect the Panthers to double dip in the draft at receiver and hopefully pick up a bigger running mate for Beckham like Brandon Coleman, Jordan Matthews, or Donte Moncrief to help take some pressure off of him his rookie season. There is also the rumor that the Panthers are interested in Kenny Britt who could be a great compliment to Beckham.
Look out Panthers fans, if you hear the name of Odell Beckham Jr. at pick number 28, it should be the start of something special.