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New York Giants lucky to find Odell Beckham


EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey -- The Giants went into the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine with Odell Beckham as their primary target. The scouting department swooned over his 40-yard dash time, and the team's ownership, including president and CEO John Mara, saw how vividly he separated himself from other players on film.

Now, they are thankful for those convictions as the team prepares for life after Victor Cruz. Though offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo's system is conceptually based on the personnel that are available, so much of what he's able to do centers around a playmaker who can easily snap off routes along the vertical stem. Beckham, they thought, was perfect.

"He comes in, he's very attentive in meetings, he takes it out to the field, he practices it, he asks questions, he wants to be right and wants to learn and wants to know," McAdoo said Thursday. "He wants to be a good player. That's what I see."

But as they prepare for a game against Dallas in which Beckham will assume the role as the top playmaker -- though not one they will necessarily move to the slot to create the exact mismatches Cruz did -- the Giants will do so with a certain perspective of how lucky they actually were to be in this position.

Though Beckham was not originally projected as a top-10 pick, there was some fear that the Lions were debating between Beckham and their eventual pick, Eric Ebron, at No. 10. Several people informed of the situation said that other serious suitors -- one of whom even considered a possible draft-day deal had Beckham slipped much further -- included the Eagles, Steelers, Jets, Bengals and 49ers.

As one source put it: "He was closer to pro-ready than any other receiver in the draft."

The Giants declined to comment on any potential trade offers they might have fielded.

During the pre-draft process, they opted not to meet with Beckham outside of his Pro Day and the Combine, part of what has built their reputation as a mysterious franchise leading up to selection day. Much of this was on purpose, of course. In a draft in which some teams were more than willing to deal their picks, the Giants did not want to tip their hand.

"You have to be that way," Mara said in a recent Q and A with Around The NFL. "You don't want other teams to know who you like. You always run the risk of someone trading up ahead of you. We knew a lot of teams liked Odell for obvious reasons, so you have to keep that very close to the vest."

Beckham, though, could feel his stock rising. His visits were just weeks after a Super Bowl in which Percy Harvin came in and completely changed the Seahawks offense. The name, and the various roles Harvin undertook, were certainly mentioned to him by other teams hoping he would slide.

Beckham was quizzed and prodded about his ability to be everywhere within an offense.

"They talked a lot about moving me around, all over the place, putting me here or there," Beckham told Around The NFL on Thursday. "Slot, inside, outside. It wasn't anything that I couldn't adjust to."

He added: "The whole thing was really a surprise to me, in general. I didn't know what to expect."

Of course, if Beckham had seen footage from NFL Films' Finding Giants, he would have understood which team seemed to covet him more than most. Vice president of player evaluation Marc Ross gushed about Beckham's speed and intuition while surrounded by some of the team's top evaluators, all of whom shared a similar conviction. Had they been tempted to reach for an offensive lineman -- one of the other top priorities on the Giants' draft board -- and take someone like Dallas' Zack Martin, the team would have entered a crucial divisional game with little chance of creating some of the mismatches it still can on Sunday.

For the time being, they know how lucky they are that it all worked out.

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