Stock Tips: Week 6
In the glory days of the New York Sack Exchange, Don Shula famously once said of Mark Gastineau and Joe Klecko that one was the best pass rusher in the game and the other was even better. And you could put them in whichever order you liked.
I wonder if Zach Mettenberger feels the same way these days about his top two receivers. That Mettenberger is atop the SEC in passing yards, passing efficiency and passing touchdowns, and that he’s square in the middle of Heisman conversation, is a testament to the best receiver tandem in the country, Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry.
One week against Georgia, it’s Landry having the game of his life (10 catches, 156 yards, one touchdown). The next week, it’s Beckham pulling the unprecedented against Mississippi State (9 catches, 179 yards, two TDs).
Together, they are making Mettenberger’s life in Cam Cameron’s offense a dream come true. Mettenberger’s Geaux-To Guys have combined for 77 receptions, 1,302 yards and 13 touchdowns in six games. Landry and Beckham are 1-2 in the SEC in touchdown catches, 2-3 in the league in receptions per game. Beckham and Landry are 3-4 in the conference in receiving yards (not to mention 5th and 9th in the nation, respectively).
And they have played themselves into NFL draft discussion, though both are juniors.
Beckham and Landry are fairly similar types of receiver. They are similarly sized (Beckham is 6-foot, 193 pounds; Landry is 6-1, 195). They’ll both turn 21 next month. They both are home run threats wherever they get the ball.
If pushed, you could distinguish between them by saying that Beckham is the slightly more explosive receiver, whereas Landry is the more acrobatic. But they play the position the same way, can line up wide or in the slot, can beat coverage deep and run through tackles after a catch underneath.
Perhaps the only edge to Beckham’s game is that he is an out-of-this-world return specialist (he capped off his career day against Mississippi State with another 111 kick return yards). He has 1,369 all-purpose yards this season – by far the most in the country. He's so versatile that he’d be third on that list if you took away his return yards.
Beckham is such an impact player on special teams, he did something earlier this season against UAB that practically no one does. He returned a missed field goal for a touchdown. A 109-yard touchdown that forced the NCAA to create a new statistical category, it was so unusual. And that might not have been his most spectacular special teams play that day (search for the highlight of his one-handed catch in the end zone of the opening kickoff; he looks like a centerfielder tracking down a ball in the gap).
Landry’s big plays, on the other hand, are reserved exclusively for the offense. He’s made 42 catches on the year, and 32 have gone for first downs. Fifteen of those were third-down conversions. Until Saturday, he’d caught at least one touchdown in seven straight games. And the Landry Leap – his signature full-extent catches made literally above and beyond – is becoming a weekly highlight reel staple.
Before the season, it seemed prudent to view both Beckham and Landry as promising prospects for the 2015 NFL Draft. After what they’re doing to SEC defenses this season (programming note: they draw Florida and the top cornerback tandem in the country next week), coupled with the fact that Mettenberger will be gone, it’s reasonable to project they’ll both make the jump into the 2014 draft.
That’d be a jump into a draft pool that may be deepest at the receiver position. There are six receivers who could go in the first round (Marqise Lee, Sammy Watkins, Jordan Matthews, Brandon Coleman, Mike Evans and Paul Richardson). Another half-dozen will be off the board by the end of Day Two. Make no mistake -- there will be jobs for all of them. As NFL offenses continue to spread out, teams are going to be looking for receiver depth, a la Denver.
If the LSU Two add their names to the mix, they would have one more thing in common – they’d both be gone before the third round.