Summary: For years, LSU was known as a power-running offense and an athletic defense, but in 2013, the identity of the team changed as it was led by a potent passing attack featuring quarterback Zach Mettenberger and a dynamic receiving duo of Beckham and Jarvis Landry. While Landry has gotten more press from draft pundits, WalterFootball.com knows that NFL teams are grading Beckham higher and view him as the far better player for the next level.
Beckham has the speed to stretch the field and has demonstrated the potential to make game-changing plays, while Landry is more of a possession receiver. Beckham is extremely fast and he uses that to constantly gain separation from defensive backs. He has enough size to line up on the outside and can burn cornerbacks on go routes running down the field. Beckham also is fast enough to burn double coverage with safety help over the top. He good hands and is a gritty player.
With his elite speed, Beckham earned playing time as a true freshman when he caught 41 passes for 475 yards and two touchdowns. As a sophomore, Beckham led LSU in receiving with 713 yards on 43 catches and two touchdowns. He averaged 9.1 yards per punt return.
As a junior, Beckham and LSU finally got some consistent quarterback play via Mettenberger and new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. Beckham and Mettenberger challenged defenses in the deep part of the field all year. They worked well in Cameron’s offense, and Beckham gave Alabama a lot of problems in their matchup. Against UAB, he returned a missed field goal 100 yards for a touchdown, returned a punt 60 yards for a score and caught five passes for 136 yards and three touchdowns. Beckham had six receptions for 204 yards and three scores against Furman. In 2013, he caught 59 passes for 1,152 yards with eight touchdowns.
Beckham looks like a great NFL receiving weapon for a downfield offense. He has enough size to line up on the outside, and should be a great weapon out of the slot. Beckham has the speed to get separation in all parts of the field and is particularly dangerous running go routes and deep posts. He should stretch a defense vertically and teams will have to be cognizant of giving corners safety help over the top. Beckham looks like a home-run hitter for a pro offense.
Beckham isn’t a big receiver, so he isn’t much of a red-zone threat. Beckham also isn’t going to out-fight big cornerbacks for position on jump balls. He is a speed receiver and shouldn’t be used like a big receiver.
Beckham also will offer his team good punt-return potential. The junior averaged 8.4 yards per punt return and 26.4 yards per kick return in 2013. He returned two punts for touchdowns as a sophomore.
Sources said that Beckham has received first-round grades. He has momentum leading up to the 2014 NFL Draft and could crack the top 20. Given the number of receiver-needy teams picking in the 20s, it seems unlikely that Beckham will escape the first round.
Player Comparison: Mike Wallace. Wallace has been a speedy play-maker since his first day in the NFL after being a third-round pick by the Steelers out of Ole Miss. Beckham should go a lot earlier, perhaps as a first-rounder, but in the NFL, I see them being similar players as both are about the same size with elite speed. Beckham could be a dangerous deep threat and Pro Bowl receiver like Wallace.
NFL Matches: Baltimore, New York Jets, Kansas City, Cleveland, New Orleans, Carolina, San Francisco, Denver, Seattle
Beckham has a lot of landing spots late in the first round. There are a number of teams picking in the late teens and 20s that could select him. Perhaps the highest that Beckham could hope to go would be to the Ravens or Jets in the late teens. Both teams signed free agent wide receivers, but each one could use more help in its receiving corps. Beckham could fit the ‘solid double’ that Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome likes to target in the first round. There have been rumors that the Jets are very interested in Beckham as well.
The Chiefs could target a receiver at No. 23 and Beckham would fit well in Andy Reid’s offense. A few picks later, Beckham could get consideration by the Browns as they seek to improve their offense. If Cleveland takes a quarterback with its first pick, Beckham could be an option with pick No. 26.
In the NFC South, Carolina has a massive need at wide receiver, and Beckham could be an ideal replacement for Steve Smith. The Panthers are practically locked into drafting a wide receiver early. New Orleans also could consider a wide out. The Saints lost some weapons this offseason in Darren Sproles and Lance Moore. New Orleans has some older veterans at receiver, and Beckham would give the team some play-making youth.
The 49ers could use more young talent at wide receiver, and Beckham would make a lot of sense for San Francisco. He would fit well in the 49ers’ offense and give them a downfield play-maker.
Denver doesn’t have a real need at receiver, but Beckham could be the best player available. Wes Welker is only a short-term player, and Beckham could be drafted to be his replacement in a year.
Seattle lost Golden Tate in free agency, but the Seahawks would probably prefer drafting a receiver with more size.
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