By Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley
Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper
Fresh off a Thursday night showcase against the Washington NFL team, New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (OBJ) continues to enforce his status as one of the top players at his position. He torched Washington for a 30-yard touchdown grab en route to a 79-yard night that helped the Giants put away Washington 32‐21. Brandon Marshall, fellow receiver and top threat for the cross‐town Jets, took to Twitter following the game and proclaimed that the sophomore is the most entertaining player in football before qualifying that former Cincinnati receiver Chad Johnson was the most entertaining player ever. Marshall’s Twitter take started a debate within the AFRO Sports Desk about the current best wideout in the NFL. While Beckham might be the most entertaining, is he the best? Perry Green and Stephen Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk debates the question.
Green: I normally shy away from young players at the wide receiver position but it’s hard not to vote for Beckham Jr. as the best at his position. At only 22 years old, he might already have the best hands in the league, and his route running and catch radius make him an impossible cover.
There might not be a question of whether or not OBJ can catch as well as some of his veteran rivals but it may be better to ask whether anyone can catch like him? His one‐hander from last season will be tough to outdo, but he’s already made a routine out of one‐handed snags. He has the talent and the market to easily be called the best in the NFL right now.
Riley: Beckham is talented, but Atlanta’s Julio Jones and Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown aren’t just names you can easily wave off. Sustainability is a hidden quality in the NFL, and while Beckham has exploded on the scene like few young receivers before him, both Brown and Jones have been on the scene for years now and have been besting their own personal achievements year after year. Brown gets overlooked consistently because his stature doesn’t allow for the stretched-out, one‐hand grabs that Beckham can make or win the jump balls that Jones normally does. But, his agility, toughness, hands and route running are second to none. Marshall may be right in believing that Beckham is the most entertaining, but Brown has been the most productive receiver for the last three seasons.
Green: Sticking to the context of Marshall’s statement, he’s factoring in everything into his grade: productivity and marketability. Beckham has taken New York by storm, and from the second half of last year to the first month of this season, the sophomore receiver has been a strong investment. For Marshall to add Johnson’s list to the most entertaining to ever play in the NFL, it’s evident he’s not just talking about stats. If you were starting a franchise today and you needed a young franchise piece who had the potential to turn your organization around from the field to the retail store, you would start with OBJ. and it wouldn’t be a hard decision at all.
Riley: One catch and a few commercials does not automatically make you the top selection at your position. David Tyree had one of the biggest catches in NFL history and he made it for the same Giants team in the same market as Beckham. Tyree could’ve been a franchise legend but he was nothing more than a fringe receiver who capitalized on an opportunity. Beckham obviously has more talent, but again, he has to sustain his early success. Brown, Jones and even Dallas’ Dez Bryant and Denver’s Demaryius Thomas have all been beasts on the field, appearing in a few cameos of their own. Except for Bryant, the ir markets just don’t touch the capabilities that Beckham has in New York. Nevertheless, it takes more than commercials and fan followers on Twitter and Instagram to make you the top wide receiver in the league. Although Beckham has definitely been exposed to the NFL world rather quickly, that doesn’t take away from what other players at similar ages and similar skillsets have been doing over the last few years. Green, if you’re so pressed to start your franchise with Beckham, feel free. I’m confident I could go with any receiver between Brown, Jones, Thomas and Bryant and we’d still get the same production and the same results.