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Wide Receivers That Make The Quarterback: Part 2

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The NFL is a quarterback’s league and has been so for quite a while. Tom Brady only played with a great wide receiver (Randy Moss) for two years and when he did he re-wrote the record books.

The impact of a great quarterback can not be diminished, but we’re going to look at a few pass catchers who help their respective quarterbacks, if not carry them.

In Part 1 we discussed Julio Jones, A.J. Green, DeAndre Hopins and Amari Cooper, now we’re going to go into Odell Beckham, Dez Bryant and Brandon Marshall.

Odell Beckham, Jr., New York Giants

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning already has a strong case for the Hall of Fame, as he has a pair of Super Bowl MVP’s. With that said, Odell Beckham, Jr. takes Manning over the edge and makes him better on a weekly basis.

The pair actually attended the same Louisiana high school and Beckham recalls looking up to the former No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft (2004).

“I remember walking through the school and seeing his jersey, along with Peyton and the Mannings as well,” Beckham said. “Every single day it was just kind of motivation to me. I threw with them a couple times, so I know exactly what he has in store and what he has to offer. I’m really looking forward to getting back together with him.”

Beckham might be the most exciting player in the NFL and his amazing catch radius, whether it be with two hands or just one, gives Manning great room for error when trying to make a play.

Former Giants head coach Tom Coughlin recalls what it was like scouting OBJ and what he thought he could bring to the team immediately.

“He is a guy that can run kicks back, run punts back, play the wide receiver position,” Coughlin, a guy who throws compliments around like manhole covers said on Draft Day. “He has great speed, he’s polished, he’s talented, he has big hands, he has played at the top of the level in college football. His head coach speaks very, very highly of him as a worker in addition, as a great example to the other receivers, so we felt like this is someone who would help us a great deal to put the ball in the end zone, be a guy that we can count on to help us score some points, be another weapon that we can utilize as a wide receiver but in addition we can certainly feature him in the kicking game as well. This was one of those deals where you speculate right away as to how they’re going to come off the board. There were a couple of things up there that looked like we had a chance to get the players that we wanted in position there and so when we had the opportunity to pick Beckham we were certainly excited about doing that. ”

As a receiver there is very little Beckham doesn’t do at an elite level (outside of blocking and fighting), and he is a fixture in the Pro Bowl.

Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys

This is by no means a knock or indictment on Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. Romo is a great player when healthy and he’s probably underrated in terms of fan scrutiny.

With that said, wide receiver Dez Bryant is a big reason why Romo is successful. Bryant managed to put up numbers last year in the few games he was healthy while playing with the likes of Matt Cassel, Kellen Moore and Brandon Weeden at quarterback.

Of course Bryant is such a competitor that there are often outbursts that some can deem as a distraction, but those inside the Cowboys locker room see him for what he is: a player who wants to win at all costs.

“I have a lot of experience with Dez, real close in,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said during the 2015 season on KRLD-FM. “I probably have a tolerance for the way he expresses himself that you can’t expect people that don’t know him in a real up-close and personal way would. Not that mine is the right thing to be, maybe you can be too close to something sometimes.

“But because I am close and because I’ve spent a lot of time with him, then I understand his responses.”

With Calvin Johnson now out of the league, Bryant could be the most athletic, freakish big receiver of them all and throwing it his way is never a bad option for any quarterback.

“Truth be told, I don’t compare myself to nobody,” Bryant said when asked about Megatrong in a 103.3 FM ESPN Dallas interview. “I think Calvin’s the best at what he [does]. I think I’m the best at what I do.

“I believe I can do whatever he can do,” Bryant said. “I think it’s just a pride thing. When it comes to football, just being on the field, it’s a mindset and having a mentality. I honestly believe when I’m there, I’ll be feeling like there’s nothing I can’t do. Whatever the coaches ask me to do, I’m going to do it.

“I always feel like there’s more. I think that’s just a mindset you’re supposed to have.”

Brandon Marshall, New York Jets

This may be a controversial addition to the list as Brandon Marshall is playing for the fourth team in his NFL career.

With that said, Marshall has performed well for every team he’s played on and maybe the best quarterback he’s ever suited up with outside of the Pro Bowl has been Jay Cutler.

Marshall believes that Ryan Fitzpatrick, who he spent the 2015 season with is his “QB soulmate.”

“The way we communicate, the way we practice together, the way we bring other guys together, I’ve never seen that anywhere else — and I’ve been a lot of places and I’ve had a lot of quarterbacks,” Marshall said. “That’s the toughest thing for me when I think about him potentially putting on another jersey. What we had and what we have is hard to create. It took us almost a year to do that, well, six months to do that. Most of the time, it takes guys a couple of years. We feel like we’re really close. We have a great defense. We have a consistent offense. We have great coaches. All we need to do now is continue to get more reps with the same guys.”

“The Beast” is a consistent performer, a great red zone threat and although he does drop his fair share of passes, he makes more than his fair share of plays on the outside. He is still a great route runner, has as strong of hands as anyone in the league to make contested catches and will single-handedly elevate a team’s passing game with his presence.

“The guy is so much more than, I think, whatever everybody is trying to paint him (as),” Jets head coach Todd Bowles said prior to last season. “Everybody, if you look up their past, is going to have some shaky things going through it, but Brandon has come a long way. The things he does with what he’s doing right now and the way he’s come … to where he is now, I think he’s at a great spot in his career to have a breakout year.”

The former UCF star had that breakout year as he caught 109 passes for 1,502 yards with 14 touchdowns.  Not bad for a player the Jets acquired for just a fifth-round pick.

Marshall also helps the running game as he normally commands double-teams and is also a very willing blocker.

Some of the off the field issues and multiple teams will likely keep Marshall out of the Hall of Fame, but there’s no doubt that he’s one of the toughest covers in the NFL for any cornerback and one of the biggest difference makers.


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.