NFL

Odell Beckham Jr.’s Possible Replacement Is a Prolific Receiver at Alabama

Odell Beckham Jr.’s rocky tenure with the Cleveland Browns just reached rock bottom.

Beckham, the former All-Pro receiver, tore his ACL in Week 7 and will miss what remains of the 2020 season. The injury is the latest rough event in Beckham’s tough two years in Cleveland.

Whether or not the Cleveland Browns decide to move on from Beckham next offseason, they should already be honing in on his replacement: Alabama standout Jaylen Waddle.

Odell Beckham Jr. will miss the rest of this season

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Although the Cleveland Browns are 5-2 and eager to make the postseason for the first time in nearly 20 years, they’ll have to do it without Odell Beckham Jr.

Beckham, a three-time Pro Bowl wideout, tore his ACL in a Week 7 victory over Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals. It is the second time in the last four years that Beckham’s season has ended prematurely.

Beckham fractured his ankle four games into the 2017 campaign. Now, he’ll have to rehab and watch from the sidelines as Cleveland tries shocking the football world.

Beckham had 23 catches for 319 yards and three touchdowns across seven games this year. He also had a 50-yard rushing touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 4.

For his career, Odell Beckham Jr. has 487 receptions for 6,830 yards and 51 touchdowns. He earned Pro Bowl honors in his first three seasons and a second-team All-Pro spot in 2015 and 2016.

Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle is an excellent receiving prospect

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Outside of the rivalry between their two schools, Odell Beckham Jr. and Jaylen Waddle can certainly relate to one another.

Beckham, a former star at LSU, will miss the rest of this season. Waddle, a dangerous wideout at Alabama, fractured his ankle on October 27 and will also sit out the rest of this season.

An elite speedster who makes plays despite standing 5 feet 10 inches, Waddle turned 25 catches into 557 yards and four touchdowns this year. That amounted to an eye-popping 22.3 yards per catch.

In 33 career games with the Crimson Tide, Waddle has 103 receptions for 1,965 yards and 17 touchdowns. Waddle also returned two punts and a kickoff return for touchdowns.

Could Jaylen Waddle replace Odell Beckham Jr. in Cleveland?

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Given the size difference, Waddle may not immediately sound like the perfect replacement for Odell Beckham Jr. in Cleveland.

Still, the Cleveland Browns have to consider Waddle if he is still on the board when they draft next spring — and if his recovery goes well. Waddle is a dangerous receiving threat who uses his hands and speed to burn opposing defensive backs.

In a scouting report earlier this year, NFL Media’s Daniel Jeremiah compared Waddle to longtime Washington receiver Santana Moss.

Jeremiah made it clear that every team “needs a player like Waddle.”

“He’s a threat to score from anywhere on the field and his speed opens things up for the rest of the offense. His run-after-catch skills will provide big-play potential on minimal-risk throws. We’ve seen the NFL adapt over the last few years to the point where the RPO (run-pass option) game is a staple in nearly every offense, and guys like the 49ers’ Deebo Samuel have redefined the role of the receiver.”

Several draft analysts and experts projected Waddle as a top-20 pick before his injury. Walterfootball.com predicted the Patriots would draft Waddle with the 12th overall pick, while Pro Football Network had the Dolphins drafting Waddle at No. 7. 

The injury will likely drop Waddle a bit in the draft. That could provide Cleveland with the chance to add an explosive receiver for quarterback Baker Mayfield

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