NEW YORK — Heading into Thursday night’s NFL draft, Odell Beckham Jr. figured to be either third or fourth receiver drafted. He also apparently enjoyed his brief stay in the greater New York area.
When he named was called to join his new league, Beckham’s initial reactions could result in him being a mainstay in the Meadowlands with a familiar face by his side.
The former LSU standout was selected by the New York Giants as the 12th also became the highest Tigers receiver drafted since Michael Clayton was picked 15th by Tampa Bay in 2004. He also became the sixth LSU receiver drafted in the first round. In New York, Beckham figures to be a primary weapon as a receiver and returner in joining fellow Isidore Newman graduate Eli Manning and fellow Tigers star Rueben Randle, who left for the NFL after his junior year in 2012.
“This is just such a great feeling,” Beckham Jr. said “It will also be special playing with Rueben. I remember him showing me the ropes and throwing balls with him in camp. Seeing his jersey hung up gave me some added inspiration to get here.
“Having (Randle) here will help me make the transition easier.”
Giants coach Tom Coughlin said he was happy with his team’s choice.
“We’re excited, let’s put it that way,” Coughlin said. “This particular individual was somebody that, quite frankly, we favored on the board all along. We had a great impression by him in Indianapolis, the scouts stood up for him. He is a guy that can run kicks back, run punts back, play the wide receiver position.
“He has great speed, he’s polished, he’s talented, he has big hands, he has played at the top of the level in college football. His head coach speaks very, very highly of him as a worker in addition, as a great example to the other receivers, so we felt like this is someone who would help us a great deal to put the ball in the end zone, be a guy that we can count on to help us score some points, be another weapon that we can utilize as a wide receiver but in addition we can certainly feature him in the kicking game as well.
“This was one of those deals where you speculate right away as to how they’re going to come off the board. There were a couple of things up there that looked like we had a chance to get the players that we wanted in position there.”
Beckham said he can utilize his talents on special teams as well. “I’ll be in there fighting for a spot to return kicks, especially punts,” said Beckham. “I would enjoy running back kickoffs and punts, and I know I can make a difference.”
Beckham was the first of the recognized top prospects introduced moments before the draft began. A few hours before the draft, rumors began to intensify that Beckham could be drafted as high as ninth by Buffalo, and had a good chance to be drafted before Texas A&M’s Mike Evans. He did have a workout with the Jets, but not the Giants.
Ironically, Clemson’s Sammy Watkins was the first receiver selected as he was chosen by the Buffalo Bills as the fourth-overall pick. The Bills, originally slated to pick ninth, swapped picks with the Cleveland Browns to gain the fourth spot overall.
Three picks later, Evans became the top pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. North Carolina tight Eric Ebron, who was regarded as one of the top five receivers in the draft, was picked 10th detroit Lions.
Beckham drew cheers from the crowd that was dominated by Giants and Jets fans. After he received a hug from his mother, Heather Van Norman, Beckham also was greeted with pats on his back and handshakes from Giants fans as he left the stage and made his way down the aisle.
LSU coach Les Miles sees Beckham being an effective pair with Randle.
“I think that will be a great fit for the Giants,” Miles said. “He and Reuben will work well together, and I think the new NFL rules will benefit Odell, and there are certainly plays he will make in special teams. This New York market is a tremendous place to play. Eli (Manning) is a great quarterback to catch balls from, and they have a real strong culture here. I think he’ll be real comfortable with that, so I think it’s a very good fit for them.”
Miles also envisions success on and off the field for Beckham.
“He’s a guy that will have a great career in the NFL, and he’s going to mature and blossom as a player,” Miles said. “He’s going to earn his degree, and I think this is a wonderful night for Odell Beckham and LSU.”