When the New York Giants selected wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. with the No. 12 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, they could not have predicted the incredible season he would have as the league's runaway Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Beckham benefitted from a season-ending injury to starter David Cruz and became one of the most popular players in the league thanks to making a series of circus catches including an eye-popping one-handed grab on Sunday Night Football. Aside from the highlight plays, ODB averaged a ridiculous nine catches, 133 yards, and a touchdown per game in his first season.
Not bad for a guy the scouts said "lacks elite top-end speed to separate vertically" after last year's combine. Making their report even more laughable now, Beckham was said to be "inconsistent making contested grabs" and "has some concentration drops."
After just one partial NFL season, Beckham is now a recognizable face of football. Looking ahead to the 2015 NFL Draft, here are our picks for a new generation of impact players and what teams they would fit nicely with.
1. Jameis Winston, QB
School: Florida State
Strengths: A proven winner with freakish strength and athleticism, Winston is a Heisman Trophy winner, has a National Championship ring, and may also have the opportunity to play professional baseball. he threw for 65 TD in two seasons at FSU.
Weaknesses: With a checkered history marked by allegations of sexual assault, immature behavior, and shoplifting, Winston is considered a huge gamble.
Draft Prediction: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are so desperate for a capable QB, they'll likely take him No. 1 and keep Winston in the Sunshine State.
2. Marcus Mariota, QB
Strengths: Massively successful field general who posted gaudy numbers for one of the top teams in college football last year. Mariota threw for 105 TD and 14 interceptions in three years for the Ducks and at the NFL Combine, he was the fastest QB with a 4.52 40-yard dash.
Weaknesses: Ran a simple offense in college and has been criticized for not possessing enough arm strength necessary to be a franchise quarterback.
Draft Prediction: Trade rumors have been hot with the Eagles said to be in love with Mariota, who played for coach Chip Kelly at Oregon three years ago as a freshman. The Jets need a QB in the worst way, so if they don't screw it up, Mariota should end up in New York.
3. Melvin Gordon, RB
Strengths: Electric runner who posted 32 TD, averaged 7.8 yards per carry, and racked up 2,587 yards as a junior, which is 41 fewer than the all-time record set by Barry Sanders.
Weaknesses: Two words: Ron Dayne. Lacks three-down ability and is a questionable blocker, which is something all NFL running backs must be able to do if they want to play.
Draft Prediction: The Patriots have the last pick of the first round and need a RB.
4. Dorial Green-Beckham, WR
Strengths: Freakish size has drawn comparisons to Detroit's Calvin Johnson. At 6-foot-5 with blazing speed, Green-Beckham has everything NFL coaches love in a receiver.
Weaknesses: Twice arrested for marijuana and he was kicked off the team in 2014 for his role in a burglary. Scouts are critical of his route running, too.
Draft Prediction: Cleveland needs a WR and DGB would be an ironic replacement for the troubled Josh Gordon.
5. Leonard Williams, DT
Strengths: Monstrous interior lineman could end up being the No. 1 pick in the draft. Scouts love his athleticism, power, and motor and he is projected to be an immediate starter after recording seven sacks last season for the Trojans.
Weaknesses: A raw talent who needs polishing, Williams is supremely gifted but doesn't know how to use his skills yet, according to scouts. But he'll learn. Quickly.
Draft Prediction: Tennessee needs a DL at No. 2 and that's exactly where Williams winds up after Winston goes to Tampa.
6. Vic Beasley, OLB
Strengths: The most lethal pass rusher in the draft, he's Clemson's all-time sack leader.
Weaknesses: At 6-foot-3 and 246 pounds, scouts want to see him add more bulk to his frame but more alarming is his lack of tenacity.
Draft Prediction: Washington needs a pass rusher and there may not be a better option in the draft. Beasley will be the answer at No. 5.
7. Maxx Williams, TE
Strengths: Good size and straight-away speed to be a reliable option in the TE-mad NFL. He's seen as a Jeremy Shockey-type player capable of running past LBs and safeties. Scouts love his character, and 82 percent of his college catches were for a first down or a TD.
Weaknesses: Scouts say he must hit the gym and put on more muscle to endure the rigors of the NFL game.
Draft Prediction: The Atlanta Falcons need a TE and he'll be the best one available when they pick early in the second round.
8.Trae Waynes, CB
School: Michigan State
Strengths: Posted a 4.3 40 time at the combine, is used to playing one-on-one on an island, is considered the best corner in the draft and he even looks like Seattle's Richard Sherman.
Weaknesses: Scouts say he is a little too grabby for the NFL and will need to work on his hands, curb his penalties, and learn to read plays better at the next level.
Draft Prediction: The Eagles will shore up their ugly secondary and make Waynes the first CB taken in the draft.
9. Jesse James, TE
School: Penn State
Strengths: Tailor-made for the modern NFL that places an emphasis on versatile tight ends, he is a 6-foot-7 specimen capable of making one-handed circus catches.
Weaknesses: Scouts don't think the big guy plays mean enough.
Draft Prediction: Green Bay may be one of the best offenses in the NFL, but they’ve done it without a big-time TE. They’ll take a late-round flier on James as a massive red zone target for Aaron Rodgers.
10. Arik Armstead, DE
Strengths: At 6-foot-7 and 296 pounds of raw ability, Armstead also played basketball early in his career at Oregon. A late bloomer, he is a gifted athlete that scouts think can develop into a special talent. May have only scratched the surface of his true potential.
Weaknesses: Relies on his natural power and raw talent, but has not yet put it all together. If he does, he can be a monster on the line.
Draft Prediction: Armstead will grow into a vital cog for the fearsome Baltimore Ravens defensive front.
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