Despite the fact that he missed the first four weeks of the 2014 season and didn’t have a 50-yard game until Week 9, New York Giants
wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
has been so dominant during the second half of the season that he has emerged as the clear-cut favorite to be named Offensive Rookie of the Year.
For all intents and purposes, Beckham clinched the honor on Sunday when he caught five passes on a decisive fourth-quarter drive against the Washington Redskins.
He put the game away with a six-yard touchdown catch to cap that drive, but the 22-year-old was also locking up that OROY award in the process.
And that says a lot, because this has been an amazing year for rookie receivers. There’s a very good chance that four of them—Beckham, Kelvin Benjamin of the Carolina Panthers, Mike Evans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Sammy Watkins of the Buffalo Bills—will surpass the 1,000-yard mark.
That’s something only four receivers—Keenan Allen, A.J. Green, Marques Colston and Michael Clayton—had accomplished in the previous 10 years.
In fact, the only time we’ve had more than one rookie receiver hit 1,000 yards in NFL history was when Ernest Givins and Bill Brooks accomplished that feat in 1986.
With Jordan Matthews of the Philadelphia Eagles and Jarvis Landry of the Miami Dolphins also on pace to go over 800 yards, it’s fair to conclude that we’ve never seen a rookie wide receiver class quite like this one:
Beckham is still fighting with Benjamin, Evans and Watkins when it comes to catches, yards and touchdowns, but when you look at his production on a per-game basis and his catch rate, the debate is over:
In fact, since he started played a prominent role in the Giants offense, Beckham has been the most productive wide receiver in all of football—period:
Had he done this since Week 1, he’d be a serious candidate for Offensive Player of the Year. I mean, he somehow already has more 130-yard performances than anyone else:
And keeping things broad, he has built up one of the best second halves of a season in league history—by a rookie or veteran:
In case you aren’t totally convinced yet, consider that Beckham has been at his best when it has mattered most. Among the 35 receivers who have been targeted at least 30 times on third down this season, he has the league’s highest catch rate by a massive margin:
He’s also caught 34 percent of his passes in the fourth quarter. In those situations, he again has the highest catch rate among receivers with at least 30 targets.
It’s not as though he’s been loading up in garbage time either. In one-score games in the fourth quarter, he has more catches than anyone else in football:
It’s just astonishing how good the No. 12 overall pick has been, especially with little support. Top receiver Victor Cruz has been out since Week 7 and the next best receiver on the roster, Rueben Randle, is having a nightmare season.
But Beckham keeps delivering with circus catches in big spots. He’s the best receiver in this class by a significant margin, but let’s not forget that he also made arguably the play of the year with a three-fingered touchdown grab against Dallas in Week 12.
That play has already become iconic, which helps his case.
Also helping is that fact that rookie quarterbacks Blake Bortles, Derek Carr, Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel have failed to impress. None of those guys are rated among the top 25 qualified passers in football.
The NFL has been giving this award out for nearly half a century and an offensive lineman has never won it, which means we’re left with one of those receivers or Bengals running back Jeremy Hill as candidates. Hill is the only rookie on pace to come close to 1,000 rushing yards this season, but he still isn’t even a top-10 rusher.
So barring a shocking turn of events, Beckham will certainly become the first Giants player in history to be named Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Unless otherwise noted, statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com.
Brad Gagnon has covered the NFC East for Bleacher Report since 2012.
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