OBJ turns 26: Stats stack up favorably to all-time greats at same age

Odell Beckham Jr. averaged 96 receptions, 1,374 yards and 11.7 touchdown catches from 2014 to 2016. Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – It's Odell Beckham Jr.'s birthday. He's 26 years old and has put up better numbers at this age than legends such as Calvin Johnson, Terrell Owens and Michael Irvin.

Beckham's rate of 0.73 touchdowns per game trails only what greats such as Lance Allworth (0.91), Jerry Rice (0.88) and Randy Moss (0.75) had posted at 26. His 5,209 receiving yards are more than 1,000 yards ahead of Rice's pace. Rice just so happens to be the NFL's all-time leading receiver by a wide margin.

The beginning of Beckham's career has gone stunningly well on an individual level. There is still much more work to be done. He'll need to continue putting up 1,000-yard seasons until 2032 to even come close to challenging Rice's records, but the numbers early in his career stack up favorably to many of the legends.

And Beckham likely is entering the prime years of his career. A 2015 study by NumbersFire shows that elite wide receivers tend to hit their peak around their 26th birthdays and generally maintain that level of production up until the age of 32.

The New York Giants star is on pace for a career-best 122 catches and 1,570 yards this season. This on the heels of a broken ankle suffered in Week 5 of last season. It hasn't slowed him a bit.

"Odell is a special, special player," wide receiver Golden Tate said this past summer. "He's one of those players that comes once in a decade."

Beckham is among the leaders in catches, yards and touchdowns prior to his 26th birthday despite missing almost the entire 2017 season. His 374 catches and 5,209 yards are fifth most in history at that age.

It's not quite Randy Moss level, but it’s not too shabby. Moss' 6,743 yards before his 26th birthday are the most. So are his 60 touchdowns. Beckham has 40 scores.

Beckham's close friend Jarvis Landry has accumulated the most catches prior to his 26th birthday. He has 455 and doesn't turn 26 until later this month. He passed Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who had 426 receptions before his 26th birthday. Fitzgerald's 5,975 yards are second only to Moss.

Beckham would have been in that conversation had he not injured his ankle last season. He has played in just 55 games prior to his 26th birthday; Moss played in 80 and Fitzgerald 76. It is just about the only thing that has held him back early in his career.

The Giants have seen a wide receiver burst onto the scene before and make an immediate impact. Hakeem Nicks helped them win a Super Bowl and had 311 catches, 4,622 yards and 27 touchdowns before his 26th birthday. But he was gone by the time he was 26 and had 45 catches, 459 yards and four touchdowns the remainder of his career.

Without any chronic injuries, Beckham's future looks brighter on his 26th birthday. He can enjoy his cake day.