PHOENIX ‐ Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin spent the past week with the Dallas Cowboys staff coaching one of the Pro Bowl teams. Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., even though he was a rookie, was one of their best players.
As they were practicing throughout the week, everyone was impressed with what the Giants first-round pick could do on the football field. Irvin alerted the Cowboys coaches they were in trouble, but it was something they apparently already knew.
"I was on the sideline with the Cowboys coaching staff and the one thing we talked a lot about was, 'Man, you guys are going to have to deal with Odell Beckham Jr. for the next 10-15 years,'" Irvin said.
"And they were like, 'Yeah, we've got some real problems.' That boy is a bad man. He's just a bad player, a great player, doing great things early on in his career."
In this case, "bad" means really, really good. Beckham had 91 receptions, 1,305 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns in 12 games. He's a lock to earn the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award Saturday during the NFL Honors show.
In comparison, Irvin had 32 receptions for 654 yards and five touchdowns his rookie season. He had 78 receptions, 1,445 yards and 12 touchdown in his first three years combined. Beckham came close to that his rookie season.
Irvin's not surprised. He worked out with Beckham last summer in Arizona and knew immediately there was something out of the ordinary there.
"You could tell there was something special. He's just a phenomenal, phenomenal talent," Irvin said. "Watching him the other day, he was kicking 40-yard field goals, throwing the ball 40 or 50 yards with his right hand, throwing tight spirals 40 or 50 yards with his left hand, and I'm like, 'Wow.' It is mind-boggling the gift and talent he has."
Beckham managed to show it all despite two tears in his hamstring before the season began. He insists what we've seen to date wasn't his best.
That in itself is scary. One can only imagine what Beckham can do if he's 100 percent healthy. Dare we even dream of 2,000 yards?
"Well, I was never really healthy this season anyway," Beckham said nonchalantly after the Pro Bowl, as if it were obvious that he could do much better. "I was just trying to manage and maintain [the hamstring] the best I could all year."
He did all right, if all right includes playing at an All-Pro level. Beckham was the NFL's most productive wide receiver in the second half of the season, despite not having much around him in terms of premium offensive talent.
Beckham, 22, continued to shine throughout the week of Pro Bowl practices and during the game. He finished with five catches for 89 yards in the first of what one would assume will be many Pro Bowls. Only injuries seem capable of slowing him down. If not for an underthrown pass by Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, Beckham would've also had an 86-yard touchdown reception as well.
After a week of seeing up close and personal the kind of player he can be, Irvin had some kind words when the two shared an embrace after the game. Irvin told Beckham he was the real deal and just needed to continue to work. Everything else ‐ including the money ‐ would follow.
"I always encourage him to understand how great of an opportunity that he has to step off and start off his career like this. I wanted to tell him, 'Hey man, don't lighten up. You have everybody tuned in, now show them how great you are.'
"It's something. It just reiterates what I know he's going to do anyway."
And it has the Cowboys coaches shaking in their boots.
Jordan Raanan | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com | January 28 2015