About four weeks had passed since the Eagles shocked the NFL landscape by dropping the axe on three-time Pro Bowl wideout DeSean Jackson when Odell Beckham Jr. dropped into the NovaCare Complex for an official visit.
The fallout from Chip Kelly’s bold decision to cut his most productive receiver after a banner season was still fresh in Philly, and Beckham (see bio) couldn’t help but connect dots between his visit with Eagles coaches and Jackson’s release.
“It’s like I kind of reminded myself that ... that’s kind of somebody I try to [model] my game after a little bit,” Beckham recalled. “It seems like a great fit. It seems like you can come in there and play the spot that he played. It’s big shoes to fill, but definitely something I’m looking forward to doing.”
Of course, the Eagles first have to figure out how to land the prolific Louisiana State wideout Thursday in the first round of the draft. Beckham is widely considered the third-best receiver prospect in the most talent-rich wideout class in decades. It’s unlikely he’ll still be undrafted when the Eagles pick at 22.
A report surfaced this week that the Eagles were looking to trade up with Beckham in their cross hairs, but Beckham is too familiar with all the games played in the days leading up to the first round.
“I don’t really pay it any mind,” he said. “It’s almost like playing poker. You’ve got people bluffing and doing things like that. I keep the blinders and stay forward.”
In the same vein, Beckham said the report “makes sense,” given the team’s need to find more receivers after not only releasing Jackson but also saying goodbye to veteran slot receiver Jason Avant.
On his visit, Beckham said the coaches drew up some of their offensive formations and then changed things around, looking to see if he could figure out the concept of each formation.
“It’s a versatile offense,” he said. “You’re running concepts, but to an extent you’re getting the ball in the hands of your playmakers. It’s quick, fast. It’s spreading it around. It’s fast-paced and that gives a lot of teams problems.”
Beckham can play the outside and slot and can also return kicks and punts, making him arguably the most versatile receiver in the draft, or at least on the same multidimensional level as Clemson’s Sammy Watkins, the consensus No. 1 wide receiver prospect.
Beckham clocked a 4.43 in the 40 and was the NFL Combine’s top performer in the 20- and 60-yard shuttle. He was named first-team All-Southeastern Conference as an all-purpose player and broke LSU’s single-season record for all-purpose yardage.
“I would definitely say I am one of the most versatile in this class,” Beckham said. “Whether it’s playing baseball, basketball, soccer, returning punts, kicking field goals, punt it. Doesn’t matter to me. I’ve been doing that since I was 3 years old.”