LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has met with the Steelers frequently during the draft courting process. Judging by his film, it's easy to see why.
He may not be the tall receiver many have clamored for, but he's maybe the best all-around combination of size, speed, athleticism and route-running that will be available to the Steelers with the No. 15 pick.
The route-running aspect really stands out. He has outstanding body control and balance, and gets the subtle nuances that come with running oneself open. Against Georgia earlier this year, watch how quietly he moves his feet inward to his break but doesn't move his shoulders. He keeps his body pointed toward the receiver, but his feet are steering his body into a tight curl route. Because he dips his body into his route, look at how quickly he comes up from his break and is in an athletic position to catch the football. After recognizing the ball is in the air, he takes a step back toward the passer to make sure he's able to get it before the defensive back can - he doesn't quite realize the massive amount of separation he's created because of his quick and fluid route - not to mention the obvious fear the defender has of Beckham's deep speed.
He catches the ball with his arms extended, secures it and looks upfield to make a play. That's the kind of precision route a shorter-passing offense needs its receivers to run.
Speaking of fear of getting beat deep. Beckham sees over-the-top coverage from the snap, and sees the post pattern he's going to run really open up. He can increase his advantage by really pressing a vertical route from the snap, so he runs hard to keep on top of the cornerback.
Because he sells the vertical route so aggressively, the safety is taking multiple steps backward, leaving the post wide open. Beckham break hard back inside, and is immediately ready to make the catch. It's a well-thrown ball, and the safety isn't close enough to make a play on it.
Beckham is a glider. He runs with grace and fluidity, there's very little wasted movement as he gets down field. His 40-time probably doesn't truly indicate how fast he's running at top speed on the field. More than anything, though, he has great concentration.
While it's fair to knock him a bit for losing more than his share of 50-50 balls, he's simply not tall enough to think he's going to win as many as, say, draft rival Mike Evans, but Evans had a first row seat to watch this one.
Beckham is running straight, but keeps his head angled the whole route. His eyes do not ever leave the ball. After shuffling his feet to the side and angling his body, he times his jump perfectly, and makes the catch at a higher point than the defender can leap. He does all of that knowing the safety is going to lay a big hit, but he secures the ball, takes the hit and eventually gets shoved out of bounds. Just a great football play.
He plays bigger than he is, he has good hands, good athleticism, toughness and good route-running skills. Add in intelligence to that. Watch the beginning of the route, how he scrapes off the shallow defender. Beckham identifies zone coverage, and presses the defender in a manner that leaves him on something of a delay compared to the other routes being run. He breaks hard to the post, and watch how the entire area clears out after his break.
He's not running hard after he clears the shallow zone, but he is looking down the field to see where the defenders are. He makes a good, smooth break and is looking for the ball square in the middle of the soft spot of the zone.
He flashes some run-after-catch ability, too. There are better in this draft in that regard, but he always secures the ball before he squares up to get up field. He is disciplined enough to ensure he does the right things in each phase of his route, and shows why he can be a successful player at the next level.