EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –** Odell Beckham Jr., the Giants' first-round draft choice, arrived at the Quest Diagnostics Center for the first time today, but Eli Manning has been acquainted with him for a long time. Both players starred at Isidore Newman High School in New Orleans.
So is everyone else. Beckham, whom the Giants secured with the 12th overall selection, gives the Giants speed and proven playmaking ability. As a junior last year at LSU, Beckham averaged 19.5 yards on his 59 receptions and scored eight touchdowns. He also returns kickoffs and punts.
Beckham said when he arrived in Baton Rouge, his older teammate, Rueben Randle "showed him the ropes." Randle, who is entering his third season with the Giants, can again mentor Beckham, this time as a professional. On a conference call soon after he was drafted, Beckham called Randle his "big brother." Randle said the two wide receivers spoke to each other weekly during the season and he is excited to welcome his friend to the Giants.
"I think we're going to need him to play this year, so I'm going to try to get him to pick up on this offense," Randle said. "It's brand new to both of us. I'm going to have to be coach and player to him. I just said, 'You've got to get to work and start early.'
"(Beckham is) an explosive, dynamic player that can do anything on the field. He can run all of the routes, punt return, kickoff return. Whatever you need him to do, he can do it. I think if we needed him to throw, he could throw it, too. Whatever we need him to do, he's going to go out and do it."
Beckham said he styles his game after that of Victor Cruz, who happens to be the Giants' leading receiver. Cruz has played all of 49 regular-season games, but he has the longest consecutive tenure with the team of any Giants receiver.
"I actually saw him on draft night and I gave him a hug and just told him, 'Congratulations, welcome to the family, we expect big things out of you and just come in and be ready to go and be focused," Cruz said. "And he was excited; he had the eye of the tiger already. He was ready to go.
"I got to talk to him and he's a good kid. He's got a good head on his shoulders, you can tell he's focused and he understands exactly what's expected of him. He just wants to come in and give a good effort and really focus in on his craft. I think an organization like us with the wide receivers that we have in the receivers' room already, it'll be easy to transition him into this league and he'll be okay."
The quarterback will certainly help him as well. Manning is already accustomed to throwing to Beckham because of their work at the Manning Passing Academy, the camp for young quarterbacks run annually in Louisiana by the Manning family.
"We get a few receivers and Odell's come out over the years when we do our throwing there," Manning said. "A lot of them are high school guys, so I got Odell early and said, 'You go first, we'll go first together and you kind of show people how it's supposed to look.' I made sure I got the best receiver out there, made sure we were on the same page. You learn quickly on those 'go' routes that you don't have to wait much. Get back to five and I'm throwing it as far as I can and he is going to get it. He's got some pure speed."
Beckham's ability to run fast excites Manning and delivers another dimension to the Giants' offense.
"You can't really teach speed, so if a guy has it, you like to use it," Manning said. "There are obviously other attributes you want a receiver to have, being able to catch and being able to run great routes and get open against man coverage, I think Odell has those things. Those are things that you can work on, you can improve on with time. That's one thing, if you can run fast, that's always an advantage."
Beckham's friends in the wide receivers room, both old and new, are eager to see what he can do.
"He has big play ability," Randle said. "Whether it's going to be deep down the field or taking a slant route to the house, whatever it may be. He brings that dynamic ability to the team, which we're going to need."
"I've watched his film, he's a tremendous athlete, he does a lot of good things on the outside," Cruz said. "He's very fast, so he's definitely one of those guys that can definitely help us out, for sure."