Odell Beckham Jr’s frustrations with the New York Giants last year were well documented and eventually led to the blockbuster trade that landed the star wide receiver with the Cleveland Browns.
Much of those frustrations were linked to an aging Eli Manning, whose diminished skill set limited what Beckham could do on the field.
“Like I said, I feel like he’s not going to get out the pocket. He’s not — we know Eli’s not running it,” he said in an interview with ESPN last season. “But is it a matter of time issue? Can he still throw it, yeah, but it’s been pretty safe and it’s been, you know, cool catching shallow and trying to take it to the house. But I’m, you know, I want to go over the top of somebody.”
Fast forward to the to June of 2019 and Beckham is catching balls from young gun QB Baker Mayfield.
Turns out, it’s a whole different ball game catching passes from the Heisman winner.
“I’ve watched Baker since Oklahoma … he’s got an arm,” Beckham said. “I have to get adjusted to the speed. He’s throwing that ball hard. Just catching them from him the first day it was completely different.”
It also doesn’t hurt that Mayfield walks with a swagger similar to OBJ — unlike Manning, who was described as “fiery under the covers” by his coach Pat Shurmur.
“I think it’s the confidence he carries himself with,” Beckham said of why he enjoys having Baker as his QB. “You can’t coach that. You have to love that about him.”
When asked about his time with the Giants, Beckham replied by simply saying, “It’s hard to speak on the past.”
Beckham will have some time to adjust to Mayfield’s throws. As he pointed out, the Browns don’t play a game that counts until September and he plans to get in some work with Baker on the West Coast.
“We have a lot of time to build chemistry,” he said. “We’re both going to be in LA, throwing every day, going over the plays, going over the nuances, the little stuff above the X’s and O’s.”
Another reason OBJ is excited to be a Brown is because of the collection of talent in the receiving corps. His buddy and former college teammate at LSU Jarvis Landry will help spread out the field, as will second-year WR Antonio Callaway and tight end David Njoku.
Unlike his time with the Giants — where teams could do their best to game plan for OBJ and shut him down — Beckham should be able to find more separation on the field with the Browns.
“It creates matchup problems. Some receivers go to the left side, the right side,” Beckham said. “It makes it a lot harder for the other team to game plan.”
Beckham smiled when talking about some of the things that are said about him that he simply cant control. But he made one thing certain: he’s in Cleveland to compete for a championship.
“I’m in a place I’ve never been in my entire life. I’m trying to grow and mature and be a man,” Beckham said. “I want to win. I want to be a champion.”