Giants draft wide receiver Odell Beckham to boost offense
That's the nickname the Giants hope will stick to their first-round pick, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., taken with the 12th selection in Thursday night's NFL draft. The LSU speedster gives Eli Manning and the offense an outside playmaker they haven't had since Hakeem Nicks injured a knee two years ago.
"You're talking about a quarterback who needs help," general manager Jerry Reese said. "This guy is a weapon. He needs a weapon on the outside . . . You've got to have some weapons in this league, and we think this guy is a weapon."
When the Giants ran Kevin Gilbride's offense, there always was a steep learning curve for young receivers to pick up the nuances of route-running and communicating with the quarterback. Under new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, the system is said to be less complex and more straightforward. That should allow Beckham to get on the field faster than some of his predecessors at the position and help fix an offense that co-owner John Mara called "broken."
"We felt like this is someone who would help us a great deal to put the ball in the end zone, be a guy who we could count on to help us score some points and be another weapon that we could utilize as a wide receiver," said Tom Coughlin, who also touted Beckham's abilities on special teams. "I think for a young man of Odell's skill and his level of intelligence that he will pick this up relatively quickly."
"We think he's pretty close to ready to go," Reese said.
So does Beckham.
"I definitely think I can come in and if I get the opportunity to play, I can bring a lot of things, a deep threat, whatever the team wants me to do," he said.
Beckham also has several personal connections to the Giants. He played at Isidore Newman High School in New Orleans, Manning's alma mater. He was a college teammate of Rueben Randle's at LSU. And he said this week that he sees Victor Cruz as a role model.
They are similar in size -- Beckham is 5-11, 198 -- but Reese said Beckham is faster and will play outside, with Cruz in the slot for three-receiver sets.
The Giants had him in the top 10 on their draft board Thursday afternoon, and by the time they made their selection, he was their top player remaining.
The Giants also were looking at the possibility of selecting an offensive lineman in Zack Martin or even a pass-rushing defensive tackle such as Aaron Donald. In the end, they went with what Reese called an "easy" pick in Beckham.
"He was dynamic every time I saw him," Reese said. "We definitely think we've gotten a playmaker for our offense tonight."
And possibly for the special teams.
Although the Giants added other returners in free agency with the signings of Trindon Holliday and Quintin Demps, they seemed very excited about Beckham's abilities on kick and punt returns. Reese called him a "lump in your throat" returner."I'm definitely looking forward to punt returns. It's one of the things I love doing the most," Beckham said.
That'll be fine, but the returning the Giants want to get from Beckham is going back to the top 10 in offensive rankings.
Beckham was at Radio City Music Hall for the first round, but he said he will have to go home to Louisiana before reporting to the Giants' offseason program on Monday and starting the process of becoming an NFL receiver. He said he was hoping to become a Giant but wasn't sure enough about it to haul all of his belongings to New York.
And now that he's here for the next five or so years?
"It couldn't have worked out any better," he said. "A perfect situation."