In the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected Travis Beckum, the 6’3", 243-pound tight end out of Wisconsin. While the jury is still out on how Beckum will fare in the NFL, scouts have called him a solid receiving tight end with almost no run-blocking skills.
However, after carefully reviewing statements on Beckum by both the New York Giants as well as the general media, I’m beginning to think that he isn’t quite a tight end at all.
Beckum isn’t the ideal size for a tight end. In fact, in an era in which 270-pound tight ends are the standard, Beckum can actually be viewed as more of a wide receiver than a tight end, at least in terms of his body size. However, that may be his most familiar role anyway.
After reading up on several scouting reports on Travis Beckum, it appears that the position at which he will hold the most in game value is as a slot receiver. With speed that can best be quantified within the approximation of a 4.5 forty, Beckum has sufficient speed to beat defensive backs to the ball and serve as a solid zone-busting third-down receiving option.
It could be compared to the way Steve Smith has been used in thus far in his career.
Furthermore, Beckum has the heft and power to block out defensive backs that are unlucky enough to be assigned to him on a running play. Travis’ impressive bench press results of 28 repetitions of 225 pounds are a solid indicator of the strength that he possesses, providing further reason to believe that he could become a nightmare matchup against smaller defensive backs.
So, what would happen if the defense decides to cover Beckum with an outside linebacker? Well, with his above-average speed and superior route-running abilities, any linebacker in the league would likely have his hands full trying to cover Beckum.
While the official roster may list him as a tight end, it is this role as a slot receiver that I expect Beckum to take on most commonly in his first year with the New York Giants.
While Beckum’s skills almost certainly will translate effectively to the role of slot receiver, it is not the only role at which Beckum’s abilities are expected to be utilized. As a solid receiver with great strength, some Giants insiders believe that Beckum's skill set will fit in well at the H-back position.
For those who are unfamiliar with this essentially unofficial position, the H-back can best be described as a receiver who plays out of the position spot typically reserved for the fullback. While Madison Hedgecock is arguably the best blocking fullback in the NFL, his receiving skills are sub-par at this point in his career.
Having a receiving specialist who can fill in for Hedgecock in appropriate situations would make for a very dangerous weapon for the New York Giants. With a fullback, or H-back who can receive out of the backfield, the defense is forced to reconstruct their scheme to compensate for this unusual offensive attack. As a result, more holes will inherently open up for both the passing game and running game, as both linebackers and defensive backs will be forced to take on additional and arduous responsibilities on defense.
While the addition of Travis Beckum to the New York Giants may not have received as much publicity and fanfare as the additions of Hakeem Nicks and Ramses Barden, I believe that Beckum will have the greatest impact of the trio on the Giants’ receiving game in 2009.
As a physically talented receiver who can fit in at three very different positions, opposing defenses will always be forced to pay attention to where he lines up on the field. So, it seems almost certain that Travis Beckum will make his mark on the NFL in 2009; the only question is, at which position will it take place?