When the New York Giants drafted Odell Beckham Jr. with the No. 12 pick in 2014, there was some concern that his size (5-foot-11) might hurt his chances of becoming a star wide receiver in the NFL. Obviously, it has not.
Part of the reason is Beckham's uncommon and spectacular athleticism. But it's also helped that Ben McAdoo, the Giants' offensive coordinator the past two seasons and now their head coach, has sought and found ways to move Beckham around the formation and maximize his versatility. He can win on the outside against press coverage and outjump or outfight defenders for the ball down the field. But Beckham's short-area quickness also allows McAdoo to line him up in the slot and use him as a short-yardage weapon that opponents have been unable to stop near the goal line.
Why do we bring this up in mid-May? Well, if you look ahead and project the Giants' wide receiver corps for 2016, you don't see a lot of size. There's Beckham. There's second-round pick Sterling Shepard (5-foot-10). There's Dwayne Harris, who helped out last year (5-foot-10). And there's 6-foot Victor Cruz, but no one knows how much (if at all) or how well he'll be able to play since we haven't seen him do that since Week 6 of 2014.
With 6-foot-2 Rueben Randle gone off to Philadelphia in free agency, the size in the Giants' wide receiver room is unproven. Anthony Dable is the tallest receiver on the roster at 6-foot-4, but he's a complete unknown who comes from France and has to adjust to the NFL game. Geremy Davis, their 2015 sixth-rounder, is 6-foot-2 and could be a factor with a big training camp, but his development last year was sluggish and he didn't see the field very much as a rookie. Darius Powe, at 6-foot-3, is an interesting undrafted free agent out of California.
But it's not crazy to imagine the Giants starting a wide receiver trio none of whose members is over six feet tall. If that's the case, it'll be on the coaching staff to get creative with formations and alignments that maximize the talents of the players they do have.
"We teach them all the spots," offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said a couple of weeks ago at the team's rookie minicamp. "The more we can make our system schematically friendly so that guys aren't necessarily locked in and dimed with this player or that player but just think big-picture so they have that versatility, it helps. Because ultimately, when guys start to become a factor, you move them around. Odell is a great example of that."
Of course, not everyone is Beckham. Cruz, Shepard and Davis all could go on to have very successful NFL careers and still never be as good as Beckham. No one's comparing any of them to him. The point here is that, in Shepard for example, the Giants see a player who they can potentially use all over the formation once he develops in their offense. If Cruz can get on the field and Shepard can start as a rookie, that's three receivers who all can move in and out of the slot as needed. McAdoo and Sullivan will bunch them up on one side of the line to try to confuse coverages and get some of the smaller guys open. And it's possible one of the young, bigger guys comes quickly and establishes a larger threat on the outside.
Regardless, the thing to watch with Giants receivers isn't just who emerges from the unproven group, but how the coaching staff lines them up and moves them around to maximize whatever they have to offer. McAdoo's got a creative enough offensive mind that a lack of size or experience in the receiving corps is an appealing challenge to him.