June and July are a time for unbound optimism in the NFL. At this point in the year, every vet is the healthiest and most explosive they’ve ever been, every rookie is a potential franchise-changing talent, and any team might be on the verge of that elusive Super Bowl run.
With that in mind NFL.com’s Adam Schein took a stab at predicting nine young players (age 24 or younger) who appear to be on their way to the Hall Of Fame. Two New York Giants, one offensive and one defensive grace the list.
They are, of course, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., and safety Landon Collins.
2 - Odell Beckham Jr. WR, New York Giants
Well, with this guy, I am going to give you the numbers -- cause they're absolutely mind-boggling. In his first three NFL seasons, Beckham has racked up 288 catches for 4,122 yards and 35 touchdowns. That's an average seasonal line of 96/1,374/12. Good grief.
Odell is such a gifted, rare receiver with speed, athleticism and hands that are all extraordinary. This is a guy who cannot be stopped.
Raptor’s Take - In no way, shape, or form could any cogent and sane fan of the game of football deny deny Odell’s greatness. But I am going to take issue with Schein listing Ezekiel Elliott number 1 on the list and not OBJ.
Oh, Elliott was the offensive rookie of the year? So was OBJ. Oh? Elliott led the league in rushing? OBJ broke most of Randy Moss’ rookie receiving records despite missing his rookie off-season, training camp, pre-season, and the first quarter of the regular season. Few players, at any position, in the history of the NFL have exploded onto the scene like Beckham. And despite being the far and away the Giants’ most dangerous threat, he’s largely managed to sustain his torrid pace despite having all of the defenses’ attention.
Assuming he can sustain this level of play, Beckham will be talked about in the same rarefied air as Lawrence Taylor (as a player, anyway). No other player on this list has anything like his record of excellence and dominance since week 5 of 2014.
Schein talks about Beckham’s athleticism and numbers, and they are amazing, but I think we need to recognize the work ethic and smarts that have gone into his game. He’s an athletic freak, but so are a dozen other guys. Not every player has his detailed mastery of route running, manipulating defenders, or the attention to detail to master the little things that separate him from almost every other receiver out there.
9 - Landon Collins, S, New York Giants
The Giants safety has a knack for making plays (SEE: five interceptions and four sacks last season). And he's a major part of a great defense -- Big Blue just yielded the second-fewest points in the NFL.
Having established himself as a legit Defensive Player of the Year candidate in 2016 -- his second NFL season -- Collins has the ability to be entrenched as a first-team All-Pro for a long time.
Raptor’s Take - There is no denying the greatness of Landon Collins’ 2016 campaign. Last year Collins’ play was in the elite company of such DBs as Troy Polomalu, Ed Reed, and Rod Woodson.
Few safeties have ever put up the kind of tackle, sack, and turnover numbers as Collins did. In the span of an off-season he went from overweight and overwhelmed rookie to probably the most well-rounded safety in the league and one of the Giants’ most dependable players.
My only issue with measuring him for a gold jacket just yet is that he has only done it for one year — my same issue with including Elliott, Carson Wentz, and Joey Bosa on the list. He is reportedly still focused on improving both his body and mind for the 2017 season. If he can keep playing at the level he did in 2016, even if his numbers decline a bit, then I think we can have a real conversation.
Collins himself said that the HOF is his goal, let’s see if he can get himself there.