Welcome to Heavy In The Trenches, a weekly Wednesday column by Heavy’s NFL insider Matt Lombardo, bringing you insight on the latest storylines and rumblings around the league. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattLombardoNFL.
Odell Beckham Jr.’s free agent destination has all the trappings of a major college football recruitment.
So far, Beckham is set to visit the New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills, with the three NFL playoff contenders courting the former All-Pro wide receiver who was instrumental to the Los Angeles Rams’ Super Bowl victory, but who has not taken the field since tearing his ACL in the first half of that game.
Beckham, over the first nine seasons of his career, has averaged 59 receptions, 818 yards and 6 touchdowns as one of the more prolific and dynamic receivers the sport has seen in a generation.
However, coming off a torn ACL, the concerns are legitimate over just how significant an impact he’ll be able to make in his return this season.
“It sounds like Dallas,” an AFC personnel executive told Heavy was where he believes Beckham will sign. “There’s no way to tell how healthy he is until he’s out there playing for a few weeks in a row.
“If I had to guess, he could be a No. 3 and make a play or two this season, but wouldn’t think he’s able to become a go-to guy in 2022. For 2023 … He may wind up playing off more reputation than substance. So, I’d say he can be a No. 2 receiver, but he’ll never be a No. 1 guy again.”
Heavy spoke to several current NFL coaches, executives, scouts, and agents familiar with the wide receiver market to get their thoughts on where Beckham ultimately lands and what his new team can expect down the stretch in 2022 and beyond. The picture painted by those inside the league is this signing carries high risk but could wind up being a high-reward move, depending on Beckham’s health.
Here’s how some inside the league see Beckham’s situation playing out:
AFC Scout: Dallas Cowboys
“Odell’s going to Dallas. He won’t bring much this year. It’s a signing for the future. When he’s fully healthy, he’s going to be exactly what Amari Cooper was for that offense in Dallas.”
AFC Coach: New York Giants (Possible Sleeper Team)
“John Mara wants the story of bringing him back and having success. Dallas may not need him. I could see Green Bay or even Tampa making a desperate push. Coming off his injury, he may give a team less than people expect. He can probably still has straight-line speed, but the change of direction and suddenness with cutting will be poor.”
Agent Familiar With Wide Receiver Market: New York Giants
“The Giants need a wide receiver, but I’m not sure they’re going to pay him what he’s looking for. Especially having no idea what he’s going to be on the field. The big first step is going to be getting back on the field, and then ramping up to show you can play a full game and take some hits. You get the rust knocked off in training camp by taking contact. Odell didn’t have that this year.”
NFC Pro Personnel Director: Dallas Cowboys
“It sounds like Odell’s headed to Dallas. I’m not really sure what he does for them this year, though. I don’t know where he is health-wise. There are a lot of unknowns and a lot of risks with a signing like this. Could be a good move for them, or could wind up being nothing.”
Agent Who Represents Multiple Wide Receivers: Too Risky
“He’ll wind up signing with one of the three teams interested; The Giants, Cowboys, or Bills, but for a guy with all of the concerns away from the field, and coming off a blown-out knee that happened in February, and who you have no idea what that rehab has been because it hasn’t been with any teams or at any facilities, it’s a huge risk. Look at Kenny Golladay, different injuries, but he hasn’t been close to the same player since he got hurt in Detroit. Whoever signs Odell is taking a Golladay-sized risk.”
AFC Scouting Director: Dallas Cowboys
“I think he goes to Dallas, they certainly have a need. What he actually brings is up in the air, because of the knee. But if he is healthy he brings reliable hands, a route-runner and a supplementary player to your passing offense. He’s just not a superstar, anymore.”
NFL Power Rankings for Week 13
1. Philadelphia Eagles (10-1)
2. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2)
3. Buffalo Bills (8-3)
4. Dallas Cowboys (8-3)
5. Miami Dolphins (8-3)
6. San Francisco 49ers (7-4)
7. Cincinnati Bengals (7-4)
8. Minnesota Vikings (9-2)
9. Baltimore Ravens (7-4)
10. Los Angeles Chargers (6-5)
Quote of the Week
“Made the easy look easy.” – New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh on QB Mike White’s Week 12 performance vs. the Chicago Bears
Mike White was the definition of competent against the banged-up Chicago Bears’ secondary, managing the offense to near perfection, in a 31-10 New York victory in a game that was over before the fourth quarter began.
White, getting the start in place of the benched Zach Wilson, completed 22-of-28 passing attempts for 315 yards and 3 touchdowns, and avoided the kinds of backbreaking mistakes that landed Wilson a front-row seat.
A fan favorite, White delivered the kind of performance the Jets needed to bounce back from an ugly and contentious week and remain in the AFC playoff picture. He also turned heads throughout the organization.
“Mike White!, Mike White!, Mike White! will echo through MetLife Stadium 20 years from now when any future Jets quarterback struggles,” a Jets executive told Heavy.
After producing a 149.3 passer rating and leading a blowout win, the legend of White has only grown among Jets nation.
Final Thought: Josh Allen Loves Him Some Gabriel Davis
Gabriel Davis is the Buffalo Bills’ secret weapon no more.
Entering this season as a potential breakout star, Davis has so far exceeded the hype, proving a more than worthy Robin to Stefon Diggs’ Batman.
“I freakin’ love the guy,” Bills quarterback Josh Allen said of Davis, during a November 29 appearance on Heavy’s The Matt Lombardo Show.
Davis has had the kind of season that makes it easy to see him as a top receiver on a majority of rosters across the NFL. Through the Bills’ first 11 games, Davis has pulled down 33 receptions for 650 yards and 5 touchdowns, while averaging a prolific 19.7 yards per catch.
Opposite Diggs, Davis hasn’t just benefited from the attention paid over the top to the Bills’ star receiver, but the three-year veteran has shown an ability to take the top off a defense in his own right.
“He’s just so strong,” Allen said. “He’s a big, physical receiver, and I don’t think people give him enough credit for that.
“Like, when defensive backs try to get their hands on him, they’re getting off. Like, he’s gonna wipe them off. And, he’s angry at the point of attack-point of the ball, too. He’s fun to throw to.”
Part of what makes the Bills’ offense so taxing, and gave Allen the ability to lead Buffalo barnstorming back in the final 23 seconds to beat the Lions on Thanksgiving, is the multitude of weapons at his disposal.
Davis is quickly moving up Allen’s target hierarchy, especially after catching touchdown passes of 98, 62 and 34 yards so far in 2022.
“He knows every position in our offense,” Allen said. “So, when I’m out there, I know exactly what he’s going on every single play. He works his freaking tail off. I love the guy.
“He goes in there, he digs out of a safety, digs out of a linebacker, he’ll block an end and he’ll then he’ll run by the corner and safety, and go make a contested catch. So, the guy does it all. He’s awesome to play with.”