LSU’s Odell Beckham is a player I want on the Seahawks roster. In fact if they lose Golden Tate in free agency, Beckham would be an ideal replacement. He’s incredibly polished, has huge hands and has underrated athletic qualities. He’s also an explosive kick returner. Against Mississippi State he stood out again with nine catches for 179 yards and two touchdowns. He was the best player on the field. Beckham isn’t quite the big, physical receiver Seattle lacks (he’s 6-0 and 187lbs) but I don’t care. He still high points the ball (see his first TD here). He’s a smooth, fluid runner (and his second here is evidence of that). You need playmakers like this. I mentioned his hand size — and while I don’t have the measurements — it looks unnatural for his height. He absorbs the football into his mits. I don’t think this is going to be a great draft, although we know how that can change quickly. Right now I’d happily give Beckham a late first round or early second round grade.
Part of the problem with this draft class appears to be all the negativity out there. Marqise Lee at USC — once a sure-fire top ten lock — has suffered a knee injury, loss of form and seen his stock fall as USC drifts into farce. Dominique Easley, looking so good to start the year, picked up a fresh ACL injury. Notre Dame’s highly rated nose tackle Louis Nix looks cumbersome and heavy and he’s struggling to have an impact. Anthony Barr at UCLA hasn’t quite lived up to his hype, while Bradley Roby at Ohio State hasn’t looked anywhere near as good as last season. Ha Ha Clinton Dix has been suspended for the year by Alabama.
Even the anointed top prospect Jadeveon Clowney has got involved in the ‘bad news draft’. He decided to sit out South Carolina’s game against Kentucky with bruised ribs. That’s not too shocking. The reaction of Steve Spurrier, however, painted the situation in a different light. “(If Clowney) wants to play, we will welcome him to come play for the team if he wants. But if he doesn’t want to play, he doesn’t have to play. Simple as that.” If Clowney is protecting himself for the NFL, it’s his prerogative. But it’s not a good look. A lot of this will be forgotten when he turns up at the combine and puts on a display for the ages. Right now he’s copping some flack. And it’s a long way until February.
Clowney wasn’t the only one making headlines this weekend. Colt Lyerla — a controversial figure at the best of times — has walked out on Oregon. Or he was kicked off the team. Whatever you want to believe, it’s still a mess. Lyerla has all the physical qualities you want in a modern NFL tight end, but you have to seriously question his mental make-up after this. Let’s not forget, this is the man who made ill-advised conspiracy theorist tweets about the Sandy Hook shootings. He didn’t feature against Colorado due to a team suspension, he’d been warring with Head Coach Mark Helfrich for most of the season. He’ll probably get a chance in the NFL, even if it’s as an UDFA. But he can forget any chance of being an early round pick.
On the subject of tight ends — and it’s a position Seattle might look at in the 2014 draft — it’s hard to see any going in the first round. Austin Seferian-Jenkins looks out of shape and had a crucial drop against Stanford. Eric Ebron had another good outing for North Carolina and recorded another nice touchdown. He looks like a solid second or third round player to me rather than a day one pick.
On a positive note, it’s a good year for offensive tackles. It’s the position of depth in this class. Even so, they all kind of blend into one. There’s no obvious stand out. Cyrus Kouandijo, Jake Matthews, Zack Martin, Taylor Lewan, Antonio Richardson, James Hurst. All could be first round picks, but who’s the #1 in that group? Whoever wins that particular race, it’s not too early to expect a cluster of tackles to go in the top-15 picks.
It might be time to start considering Clemson’s Vic Beasley as a first round pick. He’s not the biggest pass rusher, but his get off and pure speed is almost as good as Bruce Irvin’s. You can’t argue with his production either. Two sacks against Syracuse on Saturday made it 16 in 12 games during the last two seasons. This year he has eight sacks in five outings. I watched the game at the weekend and Beasley was constantly in the backfield — stunting inside, bursting off the edge. He made good plays against the run too. I’ve not seen a pass rusher as accomplished as Beasley this season.
Team mate Tajh Boyd had a productive day in the stat column (455 yards, five touchdowns) but we’re not seeing a jump in consistency from last year. At his best (vs LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl) he looks the part of a first round pick. But last year he had a tendency to miss on simple throws, making life difficult for his receivers. We’re still seeing that. He had two picks against Syracuse, including a bad overthrow over the middle. It should’ve been a simple connection, he just missed. I kind of feel like we’re waiting for the day Boyd and the Clemson offense hit a wall. Last season that came against Florida State. The Tigers play FSU in two weeks.
Brandon Coleman continues to toil a little for Rutgers. I found out this week he’d had surgery to reconstruct his knee during the off-season. Is it hampering his progress? And did it impact he decision not to turn pro in 2013? He doesn’t look the same player so far and while he had a big catch and run against SMU, he was wide open on the play. The other receivers at Rutgers are getting the production. Coleman has so much upside but appears destined for a mid-round grade at best unless things pick up soon.