Josh Norman: Odell Beckham not a top-five receiver

Josh Norman's memorable Week 15 matchup with Odell Beckham was so over-the-top intense that it led directly to a new automatic ejection rule for repeated unsportsmanlike conduct.

"I hope I pulled back the mask on who this guy really is," Norman said of Beckham after the game.

It was no surprise, then, that Beckham was a glaring omission when Norman ranked the NFL's top five wide receivers for host Lindsay Rhodes on Friday's edition of NFL Total Access.

Below is Norman's list in no particular order:

»*Julio Jones, Falcons* Norman took exception to the notion that Jones emerged victorious in their Week 16 matchup, hauling in seven of eight targets for 91 yards with Norman in coverage, per Next Gen Stats. Still, there's no denying Jones' greatness.

"One of the most explosive receivers I've ever faced -- and definitely in the league," Norman said. "He's able to run full-speed straight at you, 15 yards, cut it off at the top of his route and come back to the ball, and it's like he runs his routes like he's running a 40-yard dash. It's full-speed tilt and he can run all of the routes on the route tree. He's an all-around receiver, pretty much everything you want when you're drafting."

»*Antonio Brown, Steelers* Norman complimented Brown as a "shifty, crafty" route runner with versatility, an impressive catch radius and high-octane run-after-catch ability. The Panthers cornerback emphasized Browns' "explosiveness to get in and out of his cuts" as his greatest asset.

»*Dez Bryant, Cowboys* "He's a beast," Norman exclaimed. Still hampered by an early-season foot injury, Bryant managed to catch just two of eight targets for 26 yards in the Cowboys' Week 12 loss to the Panthers. "I was amped up before that," Norman said. "I came out there and I was in a dark place. ... I got into straight seek-and-destroy mode."

»*A.J. Green, Bengals* "Since he came into the league, he's been a stat-sheet stunner," Norman said of Green. "... His numbers speaks for themselves."

»*Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers* Benjamin missed the entire season with a torn ACL after an impressive rookie campaign in 2014. "To bring that type of player to our offense is going to do wonders," Norman said. "You're not going to double Greg Olsen anymore. You're not going to double Funchess, you're not going to double Teddy Ginn. ... Because you got a big threat over there, 6-foot-6, that you gotta put two men on. You're not going to put one man on him. I'm telling you, you're not going to do that."

Norman can't be blamed for promoting his teammate. For as promising as Benjamin's nascent career might be, though, placing him above the likes of Beckham, DeAndre Hopkins, Allen Robinson, Demaryius Thomas, Brandon Marshall and Larry Fitzgerald calls Norman's assessment into question.

When Rhodes questioned Beckham's absence, Norman responded, "This is my top five, alright? I don't know if he would put me on his -- I really don't care -- but this is my top five.

"So this is what I see. If he wants to get up there, do something to show me. Shoot, man, I played it, I saw it. I don't know, I just didn't think that. But he's working there. I think he's definitely a top 10. He's working in the top-five bracket. Maybe if I play him again, he'll show me different."

Despite a mistake-filled Week 15 loss to Carolina, Beckham won enough routes versus Norman to leave roughly 100 yards and a touchdown on the field.

"Norman did match up to Beckham, but they didn't play man coverage very often. And in fact, Beckham killed him," NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell opined after watching the coaches tape. "I watched every play and I studied it hard because I knew it would be a topic of conversation. Beckham was beaten mentally. ... But physically, it's not even close. Norman can't cover Beckham."

Norman's list will only serve to ignite another round of public slap-fighting between the two rivals. In fact, the players traded jabs via Twitter on Friday, ostensibly after Beckham caught wind of another television segment in which Norman described the receiver as merely "OK."

Brace yourselves, football fans. It's a long offseason.

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