New York Giants: Was OBJ or LT the better draft pick?
By Curt Macysyn
Despite the headline, this is not an actual comparison of players. Comparing Odell Beckham to Lawrence Taylor would be like comparing Derek Jeter to Mariano Rivera.
In the case of both Beckham and Taylor, the New York Giants were fortunate, very fortunate. In both cases, these players should have been the top selection in their respective NFL drafts. Now, Taylor only slid one spot, from No. 1 to No. 2, but Beckham went No. 12 to the G-Men.
There’s so much that goes into the draft process, but at the end of the day, it’s still subjective. Some teams fall back on college production, while others lean too heavily on projection. Teams that fall in love with projection, often times get burned severely. The pre-Reggie MacKenzie days saw the Oakland Raiders fall into that trap.
Ironically, the Raiders benefitted significantly from multiple mistakes made by clubs looking for a quarterback in 2014. But we digress. Let’s delve into the Beckham – Taylor comparison.
New York Giants: OBJ falls to G-Men
Hindsight is 20/20, but anyone who doesn’t think that Odell Beckham wasn’t the best player in the 2014 NFL Draft raise your hand. This draft had plenty of high-end talent, but was affected significantly by hype. Jadeveon Clowney put up some highlight plays at South Carolina. The Houston Texans didn’t want to be the team that passed on him, so they grabbed Clowney at No. 1.
Great player, no doubt, but Hall of Famer? Right now, no.
New York Giants
Several notable busts are: Greg Robinson, Justin Gilbert and Blake Bortles. Quarterbacks tend to fall into the hype category, where teams don’t want to miss the next Aaron Rodgers, so they ignore the film and hold their breath (Bortles, Johnny Manziel). Khalil Mack (Raiders) and Mike Evans (Buccaneers) were obviously good picks, but I wouldn’t trade for either for Beckham straight up. Injuries can be blamed for Sammy Watkins NFL play, but I sincerely doubt if healthy he would have produced like Beckham.
Unless a team has the No. 1 selection, good drafting can be the by-product of good fortune. By drafting Gilbert and Maziel, the Cleveland Browns set the groundwork for their one-win season.
Sometimes bad drafting equals bad luck.
New York Giants: Thank you New Orleans
Most of the NFL had Lawrence Taylor as the top pick on their draft boards in 1981. Thankfully New Orleans was not one of those teams. Running back George Rogers, ironically also from South Carolina, was a Heisman Trophy winner.
To give you context, the 1981 NFL Draft contains seven Hall of Fame players, including Taylor. Right now, I see the possibility of eight players from the 2014 draft making it to Canton. On that basis alone, these two drafts are comparable.
1988: Halfback George Rogers of the New Orleans Saints runs with the ball during a game against the Los Angeles Rams at Anaheim Stadium in Anaheim, California. Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart /Allsport
Youthful New York Giants fans have to understand that LT set the foundation for what Beckham has walked into. Back in the early 1980’s, no one thought the New York Giants would ever win a Super Bowl. Taylor absolutely changed the culture of the franchise. When you have the best player in the league on your side, confidence builds.
He won two Super Bowls with Big Blue.
In addition, the term “edge rusher” is an acknowledgement of how Taylor changed the game. Right now, would you ever line up a running back to block Clowney? Absolutely not, but stubborn NFL coaches wanted their backs to block Taylor because he was a linebacker. It was a complete and utter mismatch, that smart coaches adapted to.
What we do know is that LT was a transformational NFL figure. Right now, we don’t know that about Beckham. That judgement will have to wait.
In reality, there are similarities in terms of draft good fortune and on-field passion. And the tabloid also like to follow the off-field exploits of both players.
The one major difference that I do see is this. Taylor played better when angry, but for Beckham not so much. Teams did not want to rile up LT, but that is the game plan for Beckham.
Other than that, let’s enjoy the on-field Beckham and compare notes, if and when, OBJ gets into Canton.