With the 18th pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, many experts have the New York Jets pegged to draft a wide receiver. However, the possibility of all of the top 3 wide receivers (Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, and Marqise Lee) has the Jets looking at two star-studded receivers, who make it practically impossible to determine which athlete has the edge over the other.
These two receivers are Brandin Cooks from Oregon State and Odell Beckham Jr. from Louisiana State University. Both of these receivers are very similar, very talented football players. In order to separate Brandin Cooks and Odell Beckham, one has to look at the situation from a logistical standpoint. For a wide receiver in the NFL, their are five main categories of strengths that one must excel in to succeed. These categories are size, hands, route running, physicality, and play-making ability.
Especially for a wide receiver, size is a very important attribute. We have recently seen tall, monstrous players dominating the receiving game, such as the 6’5″, 236 pound Calvin Johnson or the 6’4″, 207 pound A.J. Green. However, we have still seen smaller receivers like Percy Harvin and Julian Edelman succeed in the NFL.
Brandin Cooks measured in at 5’10” and 189 pounds. Cooks’ hands are just 9 5/8″ long, and his arms a mere 30.75 inches apiece. Almost just as small, Odell Beckham is 5’11” and 198 pounds. Beckham has an even 10 inch hands and a 32.75 inch arm length. However, players with a very similar body type as these two have found success in the NFL.
Brandin Cooks is practically the same height and weight as Seahawks WR Percy Harvin, who has found a lot of success (and money) at the professional level. Odell Beckham compares to Danny Amendola, who is the same height as Beckham and just 4 pounds away from being the same weight. Although players of all sizes are able to find success in the NFL, the larger you are, the better. Both Cooks and Beckham will have to work to contend with some of the larger players in the NFL.
SIZE ADVANTAGE: Odell Beckham Jr.
Above all else, a wide receiver should be able to catch. Very rarely do you see a wide receiver with sub-par hands succeed in the NFL, so when looking at draft prospects catching ability is an important trait to observe.
In his career at Oregon State, Brandin Cooks was always a reliable target for the quarterback to throw to. Despite his small frame, he had an incredible ability to catch almost every pass, even those that were thrown well away from his body. Cooks has constantly proven his ability to adjust to poorly thrown passes and still make the grab. Brandin Cooks totaled 195 receptions in two years, showing the trust quarterbacks had in him to throw to him constantly. Aside from the occasional “double-catch” he makes due to his small hands, he is quite efficient at catching the football.
Odell Beckham Jr. has greatly improved his hands in his college career at LSU. After spending years working on his hands, he is now relatively consistent catching the ball. Beckham is now able to lean up and snag balls in that are away from his body, something he wasn’t able to do consistently when he first arrived at LSU. However, there is still room to improve upon for Beckham. Beckham is prone to the occasional drop, and we saw balls bounce off his hands a little more than we should at LSU. Although his hands are good, he isn’t great in this area as of now.
HANDS ADVANTAGE: Brandin Cooks
The ultimate compliment to being able to catch the football is the ability to get open. In order to so, a receiver must have quick, agile feet along with an ability to disguise his intentions up until the last minute.
Brandin Cooks is a phenomenal route runner, according to him at least. During an interview on his Pro Day he stated “I feel like I got the best routes in this draft, and I came out here and proved it.” As bold as this statement may sound, there is some merit behind it. The former Badger has incredible acceleration and incredible footwork, allowing him to break in and out of his cuts fluently and quickly. Cooks also sinks his hips into his cuts, allowing him to break out of them in no time.
Odell Beckham Jr. is also a high quality route runner, sinking his hips during his cuts as well. Beckham has displayed his quick feet and agility in the past, and there is no doubt that he will be able to transfer these talents to the professional level. Although Beckham does have a slight are to improve upon when regarding the extreme details of his breaks, for the most part he is a prolific route runner.
ROUTE RUNNING ADVANTAGE: Brandin Cooks
Physicality is above all what Brandin Cooks lacks. Although his size may play a factor in this area of play, it is still a problem nonetheless. At Oregon State, Cooks experienced some trouble when pressed at the line of scrimmage, and that will be only more of a problem in the NFL. Cooks was dominated play in and play out when jammed, and was often times forced to alter his route. Cooks was also completely ineffective when run blocking, and at times would even run out of bounds to avoid contact.
Odell Beckham Jr. is also troubled by a below-average body frame, although he is much more capable of adapting to it. Beckham is still able to free himself from the press relatively easily, using his quick hands and feet to ward off the defender. The former Tiger was also inefficient when asked to block, although he never backed down from the challenge even if it was against a larger defender.
PHYSICALITY ADVANTAGE: Odell Beckham Jr.
PLAY MAKING ABILITY:
Both of these receivers excel in making plays after the catch, yet another important attribute for a wide receiver to have.
This year at Oregon State, Brandin Cooks averaged 20.2 yards per reception, an absolutely mind-boggling number. Cooks is gifted with electric speed (4.33 40-yard dash) and is able to use his speed to break away from opposing defenders. Brandin Cooks prides himself on being elusive and hard to catch, something that constantly results in extra yardage. When watching him play with the ball in his hands, one can tell that Cooks’ mind is constantly working, breaking down each possible scenario and determining the best way to elude defenders. Cooks has proven that he can turn short throws into long gains, which provides crucial momentum shifters in a football game.
Odell Beckham Jr. has also more than proven to make plays with the ball in his hands via his extraordinary return-ability. Beckham has shown his ability to find the open lanes down the field and create a huge gain. Although Beckham lacks the type of speed Cooks has, he is still extremely fast and can make plays with his feet consistently after the catch. The one note of concern in this area for Beckham is that in 34 career starts he has only accumulated 12 receiving touchdowns, meaning that he is not constantly breaking free from defenders to finish the play. Although he exceeds all expectations, he does need to get into the endzone much more often if he wants to benefit his team in the long run
PLAY MAKING ABILITY ADVANTAGE: Brandin Cooks
OVERALL ADVANTAGE: Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
Brandin Cooks is a slightly more dynamic player than Beckham, and his advantage in both the hands and route running categories help benefit his case greatly. Although Odell Beckham Jr. is also a phenomenal football player, it would make more sense for the Jets to draft Cooks if given the choice between the two.