It’s been a strange rookie season so far for Giants first-round draft pick Odell Beckham Jr. While most rookies – even ones drafted as highly as Beckham – are eased into their NFL roles gradually, Beckham has been thrown right into the fire. His debut with New York was delayed due to an injured hamstring injury, but he became a starter in just his third game because of a Victor Cruz’s brutal knee injury.
“Anytime you lose a captain, a leader, a guy like that, it’s going to affect everybody in the room, there is no question about it,” said wide receivers coach Sean Ryan, “You kind of feel your way around and you ask guys to step up and take on the role. It is time to step up in playmaking and production, but also in roles of leadership.”
Becoming a key player in the offense so far hasn’t been a problem for Beckham. After catching a key touchdown pass in his first game versus the Falcons, he had a lousy game like every other Giant against Philadelphia. In Dallas, though, Beckham bounced back with two touchdown receptions to help the Giants keep pace with the Cowboys until late.
Big Blue lost to the Cowboys 31-21, but at least Beckham and third year wide receiver Rueben Randle proved to be capable of replacing Cruz’s production. If that can continue past the bye week, the Giants have a chance to make a playoff run.
“In terms of challenging Rueben Randle in terms of leadership after this happened with Victor Cruz, I said to Odell Beckham Jr, ‘Your rookie season is over now. You’re not a rookie anymore; congratulations, you’re a veteran,’” said Ryan.
There is still much to learn for Beckham, but he’s come out of the gates about as well as any Giants fan or coach could have hoped. It’s safe to say that if the Giants had do the 2014 draft over again, they’d make the same pick in the first round.
“There is going to be bumps in the road because of his youth and you try to figure everything out, and you fix it as you go, get the details right and that is really where we are right now,” said Ryan, “The talent is there, it’s clear to see; now it is the details, the details have got to come, and they have got to come quick.”