Giants catch a good one in Odell Beckham Jr.
Bob GlauberBob Glauber
Glauber has been Newsday's national football columnist since 1992. He
Thanks, Hakeem. We're good.
Less than two months after seeing Hakeem Nicks sign a one-year deal with the Colts and not bothering to make a push to re-sign the former first-round receiver, the Giants did what any smart team would do in a situation like this. They moved on from the receiver who helped them to a Super Bowl championship and then outlived his usefulness by drafting a younger -- and potentially better -- wide receiver in Odell Beckham Jr., the former LSU standout whose measurables are every bit as good as Nicks'. And maybe even more impressive.
With the Giants unconvinced that another LSU receiver -- Rueben Randle -- is ready to be a No. 1 receiver opposite Victor Cruz, the Giants loaded up at the position, taking one of the draft's top receiving prospects.
So Eli Manning, looking for a career resurgence after an awful 2013 in which he threw a career-high 27 interceptions, gets a new target in the 6-foot, 187-pound Beckham, who comes off a terrific year at LSU with 59 catches for 1,152 yards and eight touchdowns.
It's been a welcome makeover on offense for Manning, who still is recovering from off-season ankle surgery but will be ready to go once training camp starts.
General manager Jerry Reese re-tooled the offensive line to better protect Manning. He signed Raiders free-agent running back Rashad Jennings, brought back wide receiver Mario Manningham and now has brought in a stud receiver in Beckham.
That ought to be plenty to work with for Manning and new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, the former Packers assistant who will bring in a touch of the West Coast offense and give Manning a chance to thrive in a scheme known for its high completion percentage and low turnover rate for quarterbacks who can handle it.
It will be a radical change for Manning, who worked with Kevin Gilbride his entire career before the offensive coordinator was shown the door after last season. But Manning, still in his prime years at age 33, is smart enough and resourceful enough to adapt to the new scheme, and Beckham should help the transition once the two are up to speed on their timing.
The two already have plenty in common. Both are from New Orleans and both attended Isidore Newman High School. Beckham, who played quarterback at Newman, already knows Eli, having attended the Manning Passing Academy to learn from Eli and big brother Peyton.
"It's like, you don't even have to do much," Beckham said Wednesday of catching passes from Manning. "You just run your route and the ball is going to be right where it needs to be."
A day before the draft, Beckham reveled in the idea of going to the Giants.
"The quarterback went to the same high school, I got a wide receiver up there who I went to school with, and another wide receiver [Cruz] up there who I look up to, who would be one of my mentors if I went up there," Beckham said.
Now he'll get that unique opportunity, and both he and the Giants are better for it.
Beckham, widely considered the third-best receiver in the draft behind Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans, can be an explosive, game-breaking type of player, although he lacks the prototype size of many receivers. But plenty of smaller wideouts have played big in this league, and there is every reason to believe Beckham can be included in that group.
Especially if McAdoo can come up with the kind of imaginative schemes that made him one of the most highly sought offensive assistants when the Giants were looking for Gilbride's replacement.
One pick, one play-making receiver, and the Giants got off to a promising start in this year's draft, continuing a roster makeover that was urgently needed after last year's 7-9 dud.
Still work to be done, but Beckham certainly adds a meaningful presence to a team only two years removed from its last Super Bowl championship.