Dorial Green-Beckham created quite a buzz with his spectacular performance at the NFL Scouting Combine a few weeks ago. Scouts left Indianapolis impressed with his size, athleticism and natural ball skills as a receiver. Most important, in meetings, Green-Beckham reportedly owned up to his transgressions of the past and displayed enough humility to alter the perception of his character flaws.
With momentum seemingly building behind Green-Beckham's prospects as a possible Day 1 selection, I decided to make a trip to Norman to get a first-hand look at him and see if he is worthy of being considered at the end of the Round 1. Here's my take on Green-Beckham's workout:
1. All the tools to be a WR1
When Green-Beckham measured in at 6-5, 237 pounds at the combine with 4.49 speed, he shot up the charts for teams desperate for a big-bodied WR1 with the potential to create mismatches on the perimeter. At Oklahoma's pro day, he continued to make a compelling case to be considered among the top pass-catching threats in the 2015 class. He showed exceptional hands and ball skills catching the ball in routes. Green-Beckham routinely extends to snag passes away from his body. His strength and remarkable leaping ability allow him to snag balls thrown outside of the strike zone. He easily tracks balls into his hands; his ability to adjust to balls thrown off the mark is remarkable for a guy coming off an extended absence on the field.
Green-Beckham is capable of running every route on the route tree, but he needs to refine his technique and footwork. He repeatedly takes false steps -- his foot slides back -- before getting into his routes, and he doesn't consistently break on the proper foot. For instance, Green-Beckham rolled off his inside foot on dig-routes (16-yard square in) instead of making strong cuts on his outside leg. He also showed "flapping wings" -- his arms extend like chicken wings at the top of his route -- at the break point, providing a possible indicator for defensive backs. While each of these technical flaws is correctable in time, the fact that Green-Beckham hasn't faced game action in over a year will require teams to take a slow approach to ensure he can master the fundamentals of the position.
Overall, he is a freakishly talented pass catcher with exceptional physical tools, but he will need some time to develop on the practice field before he can become an impact playmaker as a pro.
2. Cutting weight could make him a much better player
Despite posting impressive athletic measurements at 6-5, 237 pounds, I believe Green-Beckham could be a more explosive player if he shed a few pounds, ideally down to 220 pounds. The NFL is trending toward big-bodied receivers dominating the perimeter in the passing game, but the best receivers in the game still display the quickness and explosiveness to run away from defenders out of breaks.
Looking at Green-Beckham throughout the workout, I saw a big, athletic pass catcher with the balance and body control to execute all of the movements demanded by receivers. He capably drops his weight at the top of his routes, and his ability to keep his shoulders over knees over toes allows him to execute stop-start breaks (curls and comebacks) on the outside. While he still needs to refine his footwork and technique to become more efficient in and out of his breaks, Green-Beckham would be more explosive changing directions at a lighter weight. An NFC offensive assistant made the suggestion during the workout; I agree with the assessment after taking a long, hard look at Green-Beckham's efficiency out of breaks during the workout.
Ultimately, Green-Beckham's new team will suggest an ideal playing weight based on his offseason performance, but he should get closer to his freshman and sophomore dimensions to maximize his playing potential as a pro.
3. Character concerns will determine draft position
There's no denying Green-Beckham's talent or potential, but evaluators must wrestle with the "risk vs. reward" debate in meeting rooms. He can help his supporters win the argument by being forthright and apologetic about his transgressions in interviews on his private visits. He must own up to his mistakes and flaws while also letting evaluators know how he has grown from those mishaps.
Green-Beckham also needs to clear up any misconceptions about his transgressions in those meetings. Speaking to some of his representatives at the workout, I heard strong denials of failed marijuana tests during his time at Missouri. If that is true, he needs to put that information out there and alter the perception about his off-field behavior. In addition, he needs to clear up the questions regarding his work ethic and football character. Talking to Bob Stoops and several of the Oklahoma coaches, I heard positive reviews, including the fact he worked out at 5:30 a.m. with the developmental team. Every coach that I encountered vouched for his football character and suggested that he would be a solid pro. If that is the case, Green-Beckham needs to get that message out and provide his supporters with enough information to make a strong case to the decision makers in the room.
Green-Beckham is one of the most intriguing prospects in the draft, but he has to win the character examination to come off the board where his talent merits.