(Editor's Note: Heading into the upcoming NFL Draft, held May 8-10, DallasCowboys.com will take a closer look at the prospects, including some that could be potential fits with the Cowboys. Today's featured player is LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.).
Name:Odell Beckham Jr.
Honors: Beckham was named first-team All-SEC by the AP as an all-purpose player. His skills as both a receiver and returner helped him capture the 2013 Paul Hornung Award, given to the nation's most versatile college football player. Eventual first round pick Tavon Austin won the award in 2012.
Key stat:Beckham had big play potential across the board in his final season at LSU. He averaged 20 yards per reception, 10 yards per punt return and 27 yards per kick return. He also returned a missed field goal for a touchdown during the 2013 season.
Where He's Projected:There is a handful of receivers widely projected below the draft's top two receiver prospects – Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans. Beckham is one of those guys. That said, most still consider him to be an early pick – perhaps as early as the first round, and no later than the early going of the second round. It's very likely he'd be there when the Cowboys pick at No. 16, though that seems a bit early. If they trade back, Beckham would likely still be available into the mid-20s. It's hard to imagine him lasting to the Cowboys' second pick.
How He Helps the Cowboys: If Miles Austin is cut, as is widely expected, it gives the Cowboys room for another playmaker on offense. Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams make for a strong duo, but Beckham has the versatility to be a nice addition as either a slot receiver or a deep threat – or both. At the NFL Combine, he ran an unofficial 4.31 40-yard dash, which was officially clocked as a 4.40 – still faster than both Bryant and Williams. He could give the Dallas passing game a speed element it hasn't had in recent seasons. His abilities as a return man also can't be overlooked, despite the success of Dwayne Harris last season.
Scout's Take: This is one of this draft's most exciting players to study on film. He's an early out junior that is has the flair for the dramatic plays. Coaches do an outstanding job of getting him the ball in the open field. Beckham has vision and elusiveness in how to make defenders miss. [embedded_ad]
When he gets the ball, he gets up the field in a hurry. He's a north-south runner with the ball in his hands, and he will attack up the field. I have always had a great deal of respect for his hands because of the tough catches he can make, but I have also seen him drop an easy ball or two. He ran a vertical "9" route against TCU and just flat dropped a perfect ball.
There will be times when he makes incredible plays and other times have bad drops. He comes after you when he runs his routes. He can turn quickly on the out and plays with great body control. One of his big strengths is that he can adjust to all kinds of passes, able to make the back shoulder catch, will extend to snatch the ball.
He has the strength that he can drive the corner back with his route, can stop, turn and position himself for the catch. He knows how to come back for ball and is not afraid to throw his body around. He'll dive and extend to catch a ball -- not afraid to lay out. Catches the ball easily and doesn't fight it.
One of the best things about Beckham is that he'll play in the slot, knows how to avoid the jam and get away from the defender. He has no wasted motion as a router runner. He'll look for blocks – he's a nasty player in that regard. If he can take a shot at the defender, he will.
He can snatch the ball going away, and he will line up at several different spots in the formation. I actually like him better than a guy like Marqise Lee, who plays all over, as well. Not only will Beckham play outside and in the slot, he makes plays from either spot.
Coaches are not afraid to go in his direction during those key moments in a game.
He's one of the best combination players in the country as well, with his ability as a punt and kickoff return man. Here is really where you see the vision and the running style take over. I can see him being drafted in the first round because of his playing making ability from anywhere in the formation. Both he and his running buddy Jarvis Landry play with a chip on their shoulder.