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Odell Beckham Jr. leading candidate for NFL offensive rookie of the year

Odell Beckham Jr. #13 of the New York

Odell Beckham Jr. #13 of the New York Giants does a dance in the end zone after scoring a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on Dec. 7, 2014 in Nashville. Credit: Getty Images / Wesley Hitt

While the Giants have never had an NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, they did have a Defensive Rookie of the Year. In 1981, Lawrence Taylor won the award, the only time a Giant has been honored for first-year accomplishments since the awards began in 1960.

In a few months, though, Odell Beckham Jr. should join Taylor in that category. Although they are technically different awards, the two players so far have had a lot in common. High expectations. Early dominance. And, most importantly, they have made fans afraid to look away lest they miss the latest stunning play.

That's what makes Beckham the best candidate for the award this year. Not just his numbers, which rival those of other impact rookies even though he missed the first four games with a hamstring injury (his per-game averages dwarf the competition). Not his one-handed catch, his dinner with LeBron James, or the fact that his jersey already is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

No. It's that he is fun to watch. That you can't take your eyes off of him. That even when he spins away from a defender and is tackled, it draws gasps. That the eye naturally goes wherever No. 13 is on the field.

That's the way it was with No. 56. He became a distraction to watching the game because it was hard to focus on any of the other 21 players on the field. A blissful distraction. Fans would lean forward in anticipation, and often they were rewarded.

Taylor went on to help the Giants win two Super Bowls, wound up in the Hall of Fame, and is considered to be among the handful of most dominant players in NFL history. There is no guarantee that Beckham has the same bright future.

Recent Offensive Rookie of the Year winners range from stars such as Matt Ryan (2008), Adrian Peterson (2007) and Eddie Lacy (2013) to disappointments such as Vince Young (2006) and Cadillac Williams (2005). Then there are those who may or may not be busts: Robert Griffin III (2012, ahead of Andrew Luck!) and Sam Bradford in 2010. Where this year's winner will fit in that spectrum is unknown.

There also is no guarantee Beckham will win the award. He did miss those four games, which some voters could consider a negative (while others will look at his lack of a training camp and eventual cannonball into productivity as more of a positive). There almost certainly will be a backlash against his newfound fame as LeBron's favorite Twitter subject.

Through nine games, Beckham has 59 receptions for 829 yards and six touchdowns. He ranks 24th in receiving yards and is the only receiver among the top 75 on that list who has yet to reach double digits in games played.

The winner will be announced at the NFL's annual awards show the day before the Super Bowl in Arizona. By then, Beckham likely will have broken Jeremy Shockey's rookie club records for receptions and receiving yardage (he needs only 16 catches for 66 yards in the next three games to pass Shockey's 74 and 894 in 2002). He also could tie Michael Irvin for most consecutive games with 90-plus receiving yards in NFL history at nine (the potentially record-breaking 10th would have to wait until next season).

Who knows what else Beckham will accomplish in the next three games. How many catches that amaze? How many punt returns that make you forget to breathe? How many passes will he throw now that the Giants have him doing that as well?

There's only one way to know. Keep watching.Another team record for Beckham?

Beckham's six touchdown receptions is close to the Giants' team record for a rookie. How close is open to interpretation and semantics. The team's mark for touchdown receptions by a rookie is clouded because it is held by Bill Swiacki who played his first season for the team in 1948. He caught 10 touchdowns that year. But according to the Elias Sports Bureau, Swiacki was drafted by the Giants in 1946 and might have played in another league prior to joining the Giants. That would mean he was technically not a rookie in 1948.

So the true rookie record for touchdown receptions by a Giant is Ken MacAfee with eight in 1954. But if you call them "players in their first NFL season" rather than rookies, then Swiacki holds the mark.

Either way, if Beckham catches five more touchdowns in the final three games he would literally set the record straight. And alleviate a lot of confusion.

First-round stars?

Here's how the five wide receivers selected in this year's first round of the NFL Draft have fared:

Player, Team, Receptions per game, Receiving yards per game

Odell Beckham Jr., Giants, 6.6, 92.1

Brandin Cooks*, Saints, 5.3, 55.0

Mike Evans, Bucs, 4.8, 77.9

Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers, 4.5, 65.2

Sammy Watkins, Bills, 4.5, 63.2

* placed on injured reserve on Nov. 18.

New York Sports