Odell Beckham Jr. keeps whispering the same numbers to Sterling Shepard.
“Thirteen-oh-six,” he tells the rookie.
Those are the stats that Beckham posted as the 2014 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in receiving yards, catches and touchdowns. It was a historically great introduction to the NFL, with production that had never before been seen.
So how does that impact Shepard?
“That’s the goal,” Beckham said. “Just have to do better.”
It’s a pretty high standard, but Shepard is part of a pretty highly touted draft class.
For the first time in years, maybe since 2007, the Giants are expecting a contribution from every player they selected in the draft. From the top pick of Eli Apple down to the sixth selection of Jerell Adams, the Giants have a group of rookies that should be a driving force for the team and not just along for the ride.
Apple, the first-rounder, will likely see starting reps at cornerback. He’s a physical, tough defender who has the ability to combat tall, strong receivers. He’s played in big games throughout his college career at Ohio State and has shown in the preseason he’s ready to make the jump to the NFL rather seamlessly.
Third-round pick Darian Thompson suffered a shoulder injury in the preseason but is expected to return to a starting job. The safety has demonstrated an ability to get the defense lined up properly and communicate the calls from his position in the back.
“I don’t feel squeamish at all about starting a young guy,” safeties coach David Merritt said. “He has taken the bull by the horns, he is ready to go. We have all the confidence in the world that he will be our guy ready to go on Opening Day.”
B.J. Goodson and Paul Perkins will likely start their careers on special teams, but both could develop into starters by the end of the season (the Giants certainly would like to see them in those roles by the start of next season). Adams could be a key blocker as the Giants go without a true fullback.
Many expect the star of the class, at least at first, will be Shepard. Count Beckham among them, even if he’s been loath to trumpet his prediction.
“I want to just keep Shep under the radar,” Beckham said. “Let him come out and have that phenomenal season that he’s fully capable of having. A rookie of the year season, in my opinion. But keep that hush.”
Not much longer.