Most of the prospect names tied to the Detroit Lions with the No. 10 overall pick in next week's NFL draft are familiar. From Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert to Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix onto UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr and Texas A&M wideout Mike Evans, mock drafts have been fairly consistent in speculating with the tried and true.
ESPN's Mel Kiper decided to throw an unexpected name into the hat in his latest mock draft (subscription required): LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
It's a surprising selection, as Beckham (commonly referred to as OBJ) has generally been projected to come off the board several slots later. Of the five current mock drafts at CBS, the highest OBJ is slotted is 17th overall.
Kiper isn't the only one to make this connection, however. Earlier that week on Sirius/XM NFL Radio, draft legend Gil Brandt planted the seed:
Gil Brandt just intimated that OBJ might very well be a top 10 pick.— Jeff Risdon (@JeffRisdon) April 22, 2014
He gave that in response to a fan hoping the speedy Beckham would fall to Pittsburgh at No. 15 overall. While Brandt didn't specifically mention the Lions, the message was clear. Beckham to the Lions is a possibility that must be considered.
It's not a bad idea, not at all.
Beckham would make a fantastic complement to Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate. Adding his blend of speed, strength and great hands to the mix would give Matthew Stafford three tantalizing wideouts and create nightmares for opposing defenses.
His addition would give new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi the ability to vary his alignments without using sub-packages. OBJ can play outside or in the slot, the same versatility that both Johnson and Tate offer.
I did an in-depth scouting report on Beckham back in March, and I came away thinking he was a perfect fit in Detroit. From that piece on Detroit Lions Draft:
Beckham projects to be drafted between 15-30 overall. He makes an excellent fit for teams like Atlanta, Detroit or San Francisco, teams with big #1 stars. I’m comfortable with him going in that range, and it wouldn’t bother me to see him go as high as 10th overall.
Other evaluations concur, like this one from Bleacher Report's Ryan McCrystal, who compares Beckham to DeSean Jackson.
Or this one from NFL Draft Scout, which states, "Frankly: Beckham should step in and star quickly. Rare wide receiver of outstanding natural ability and and great attitude, natural elusiveness and still willing to get physical."
One of the biggest reasons why Beckham would look so good in Honolulu Blue is due to his ability to create after the catch. That's a talent that the Lions have sorely lacked outside of Johnson for years.
As seen in this video, he's very quick to transition from receiver to runner. His legit 4.40 speed and innate ability to cut sharply at full gallop make him a lethal weapon with the ball in his hands.
He's the sort of receiver that can turn a four-yard slant on 3rd-and-9 into a 17-yard conversion. That takes pressure off Stafford to have to survey options further down the field, giving him confidence in his easier targets to still accomplish the mission.
That video also highlights a bonus asset: Beckham is an outstanding return specialist, capable of taking any punt all the way back for a touchdown.
His return skills offer a way to contribute right away, even if he is unexpectedly slow in picking up the offense. It's another way he can create an immediate impact on the field and help the Lions win now.
As Matt Miller notes in the above video, Beckham has proven capable of making difficult catches away from his body. Even in highlight clips, it's evident that ball placement is not exactly LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger's strong suit. Yet Beckham consistently plucks the ball from the air with strong hands, often having to exhibit freakish body control in going against his momentum or adjusting on the fly.
While Stafford is generally quite accurate, Lions fans know all too well that he is subject to occasional wild streaks. Having a spider web of a receiver like OBJ could help turn some of those lost throws into positive outcomes.
Now to rain on the proverbial parade.
At this point of the draft process last year, Kiper was so insistent that the Lions were taking Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner that he had them trading up to No. 1 overall (subscription required) to secure him.
Let's just say that it's imprudent to take Kiper's projection, or anyone else's for that matter, as gospel. Still, the concept does make sense.
Will Odell Beckham Jr. be the Lions' pick at No. 10 overall? Or is he more of an option if the team somehow trades back a few spots in the first round? We will find out soon.
If he is indeed the selection, this is one pick that should make Lions fans quite happy.