The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

LSU WR Odell Beckham Jr. hoping to capitalize on speed, versatility

(Michael Conroy/Associated Press)

Every prospect at the NFL draft has been blessed with exceptional athletic ability. But then you have some, like LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., whose DNA carries a double dose of that special athleticism.

The 5-foot-11, 198-pound junior’s father played running back for LSU from 1989 to ’92. And his mother Heather Van Norman ran track for LSU from 1991 to ’93. During that time, the sprinter led the Lady Tigers to five national championships and concluded her career as a six-time all-American with three individual NCAA titles.

Beckham Jr. said often draws on his father’s experiences both as a football player and a student-athlete and that those lessons help him ensure he keeps his priorities straight. Meanwhile, his mother – the head track and field coach at Nicholls State – helps him with his running form, acceleration and speed. Beckham said after games, his mother rarely mentions the catches he makes. Instead, she talks to him about his running.

“I’d definitely say it helped out: my mom being a track star and my dad playing football,” Beckham said. “It definitely made me who I am today. My mom’s always coaching me up on the track side and my dad on the football. Actually, my mom and I have a bet that after the combine, we’re going to race in the mile and see who wins.”

Beckham has had an impressive college career, earning all-Southeastern honors as a freshman and a junior. This past season, in addition to earning all-SEC honors, he also was named the 2013 Paul Hornung Award winner (for FBS’s most versatile player) after recording 2,222 all-purpose yards. Beckham recorded 57 receptions for 1,117 yards and eight touchdowns last season.

Now Beckham hopes that versatility and playmaking ability will help make him one of the top prospects in the draft.

Beckham has both experience in the slot and on the outside – both positions of need for the Redskins. He said he tries to pattern his game after New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz.

Describing his skill set, he said, “I’m a guy that takes the top off the defense and use a lot of my speed as a strength.”

In addition to the physical gifts and knowledge his parents have given him, Beckham feels well-prepared for the NFL having played in a pro-style offense at LSU.

Offensive coordinator “Cam Cameron was there, and the offensive system he brought in, and schemes and stuff he taught us gives us an advantage,” Beckham said. He added that he also counts special teams abilities as a strength.

Most projections currently have Beckham going in the late-first to early-second-round range. But with an impressive 40 time, his stock could increase.