Will Eagles' Green-Beckham catch up to his potential?
IT'S NOT HARD to figure out why NFL scouts fell in love with Dorial Green-Beckham before the 2015 draft. Six-foot-five, 237-pound human beings who can cover 40 yards of ground in 4.49 seconds don't grow on trees.
IT'S NOT HARD to figure out why NFL scouts fell in love with Dorial Green-Beckham before the 2015 draft.
Six-foot-five, 237-pound human beings who can cover 40 yards of ground in 4.49 seconds don't grow on trees.
Yes, he had limited knowledge of the intricacies of playing the wide-receiver position. But he was big and he was fast. And he was big and he was fast. Did I mention that he was big and he was fast?
He played just two years of college ball at Missouri, and didn't play at all in 2014 after being dismissed from the team for allegedly pushing a woman down some stairs.
Nevertheless, the Tennessee Titans took Green-Beckham in the second round with the 40th overall pick.
His rookie numbers were decent. He only had 32 receptions, but had four touchdown catches and averaged 17.2 yards per catch, which was the eighth-best average in the NFL last season.
Thirty of his 32 catches went for first downs. And he had 10 catches of 20-plus yards, which was the same number as the Dolphins' Jarvis Landry and only four fewer than the Chiefs' Jeremy Maclin and the Broncos' Demaryius Thomas.
But the problem with being a 6-5, 237-pound wide receiver with 4.49 speed is that people expect more than decent. They expect impactful. They expect dominating. They expect difference-making.
Titans coach Mike Mularkey became so frustrated with Green-Beckham's attitude and work habits and lack of attention to detail that he threw up his hands and traded him to the Eagles this summer for a backup offensive lineman (Dennis Kelly) and a salami sandwich. OK, maybe the salami sandwich wasn't part of the deal.
The Eagles were willing to trade for Green-Beckham because: 1) as mentioned previously, he's big and he's fast; 2) they got him for next to nothing; and 3) their wide-receiving corps, beyond slot receiver Jordan Matthews, was an underperforming mess.
Thirteen games into his first season with the Eagles, Green-Beckham hasn't been impactful, dominating or difference-making. But he hasn't been awful, either.
You watch him play and talk to him and you can see and hear some of the things that obviously frustrated Mularkey and the Titans. Even though he still is just scratching the surface of his understanding of playing wide receiver in the NFL, he should be so much better than he is.
"He's just young," said five-time Eagles Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Quick, who is the club's longtime radio analyst. "Because he's so physically gifted, he hasn't had to work to understand all of the little details of the position.
"Once he commits to understanding and developing all of the minor details, once he gets that, I think he has the physical skills to be a really good receiver in this league. He may even have elite skills to play in this league.
"But you really have to get the minor details, the technique, all of that stuff down to go along with what you're gifted with. And he has a lot of gifts. But if you don't get the details on the techniques, then guys are able to take it away from you. Guys are able to make you look just ordinary."
Green-Beckham, who didn't play in last week's 27-22 loss to Washington after suffering an oblique contusion late in the Cincinnati game when he was drilled by linebacker Vontaze Burfict trying to catch a pass over the middle, says all of the right things when you talk to him. He talks about the importance of practicing hard and studying hard and knowing your technique and yada, yada, yada.
"I'm doing some good things," he said. "I totally understand the playbook. I'm out there getting more time, making plays. But I've got to continue to do those good things.
"As a receiver, you've always got to pay attention to the details and go back to the fundamentals. Playing this game, it comes down to technique and fundamentals. If our technique isn't better than theirs, we're going to lose."
Green-Beckham currently is fourth on the team with 33 receptions, behind Matthews (65) and tight end Zach Ertz (57) and running back Darren Sproles (47).
The Eagles clearly are trying to get him more involved in the offense. He was targeted eight or more times in four of his last six games, including 10 times against both Green Bay and the Bengals. Fifteen of his 33 receptions have come in his last three games.
He's second on the Eagles in red-zone receptions (six) and is one of just three Eagles receivers with two or more red-zone touchdowns. Matthews has three. Ertz and Green-Beckham each have two.
So there would seem to be some reason for hope with the kid. Wide receiver is going to be a high priority for the Eagles this offseason. But I think the coaching staff still is intrigued enough in Green-Beckham's potential upside to see how much he can benefit from an offseason in the system.
"I remember watching one of his games when he was at Missouri," NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. "It might've been the SEC championship game. The kid had no clue what he was doing, no idea how to run a route. Yet he changed the game.
"He had a couple of drops, but he also had five catches for over 100 yards. Nobody could tackle him in the open field because of his size and speed. They threw it up to him and it was like playing in the backyard."
There is, of course, a world of difference between college ball and the NFL. In college, even at the highest level, being big and fast often is enough. Not here.
"I was surprised the Titans got rid of him so quickly," Quick said. "Especially since they have a guy down there in (offensive coordinator) Terry Robiskie, who knows enough to teach this guy. He knows enough to work with this guy and get him to where he should be as an NFL receiver. But for whatever reason, they decided he didn't work for them."
Said Mayock: "Obviously, the Titans got very frustrated with him very quickly. Right now, all I see is a guy who can run some slants and some of the big-body red-zone plays. That's about all you see. At least with the balls they're throwing at him.
"He's got a long way to go as a route-runner. There's all kinds of questions about whether he's going to embrace the challenge of becoming a big-time player.
"If you put me on the spot today and asked me, is he going to be part of the (Eagles') solution going forward, I would very hesitantly say probably not."