EAST RUTHERFORD -- When the Giants drafted Odell Beckham Jr. 12th overall in the NFL Draft last month, one of the reasons they mentioned for making him such a high pick was his return ability.
"Odell Beckham, wide receiver and return specialist from LSU," general manager Jerry Reese began his description on the night of the first round. "He's a dynamic receiver, dynamic punt returner and a dynamic kickoff returner."
The dilemma the Giants face is whether they should use him in either of the latter roles. Beckham's likely to play a significant part as a receiver, if he can beat out Jerrel Jernigan for playing time during training camp.
Do they risk him in the return game as well? Is he too valuable to them offensively for special teams, especially if they have other quality options?
The Giants do like what they see from Beckham as a potential returner. It's going to come down to a risk/reward situation, and whether they believe there are better options at this time on the roster.
"Will he do each of them?" special teams coach Tom Quinn repeated a reporter's question on Thursday. "You don't know based on what the active list is for the game, but we're prepping him to do both and prepping [Trindon] Holliday to do both and Rueben Randle's still back there [on punts] and Jernigan, so we're trying to have a deep pool to choose from."
Holliday looks like he'll be the Giants' top punt and kickoff returner, if he makes the final roster. That will likely be contingent on whether he proves capable as a wide receiver. Coach Tom Coughlin is a big believer in making use of every roster spot, and doesn't seem likely to keep a player who can only return kicks.
Safety Quintin Demps would also be a quality option as a kickoff returner. He averaged over 30 yards per return last season. In addition, running back David Wilson has proven to be a dangerous kickoff returner, but Coughlin said earlier this offseason he probably wouldn't immediately put him in that position when (or if) he gets cleared following a serious neck injury suffered last season.
Beckham averaged 26.4 yards per kickoff return last season at LSU, and 24.6 yards in three collegiate seasons. He averaged 9.0 yards per punt return in his career with two touchdowns.
"He's explosive, he's got legitimate speed and he runs, I think, pretty strong for his size," Quinn said. "You put all of that together and it ends up being a good returner."
Beckham will get looks as a kickoff and punt returner in training camp. He did a little bit of both at OTAs and minicamp, when his tender hamstring permitted.
If Jernigan proves to be the better receiving option out of the gate, Beckham biggest contribution early in the season could be as a returner. It's not an uncommon path for young skill position players.
The LSU product is just the third wide receiver under 6-feet tall selected in the Top 15 picks in the past nine years. The previous two, Tavon Austin and Ted Ginn, both made their biggest contributions early in their career as returners.
Is Beckham destined for a similar fate?
"It's hard to tell right now, but I think he'll be ready for anything we ask him to do," Quinn said. "A lot of times it gives those guys confidence and they progress on and they end up being offensive or defensive players later on down the road."
Jordan Raanan // NJ.comFull Article