Today's question: Who is the rising star in this division?
Todd Archer, Dallas Cowboys: How do we not say Odell Beckham Jr.? What he did in 12 games last season was remarkable. He caught 91 passes for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns. I can't put Dez Bryant in this category because he is already with the best of the best at wide receiver. Maybe some people will say Chip Kelly, but he has become too much of a guru in some circles for a guy who has yet to win a playoff game. I don't mean to do a process of elimination here because that might look like a slight on Beckham. He isn't just the rising star of the NFC East. He's probably the rising star of the NFL … provided he can replicate last year's success.
Dan Graziano, New York Giants: Well, Odell Beckham Jr. has played only 12 games … but since he's also been to the Pro Bowl and is on this year's Madden cover, I guess the secret is out on him. And I'd call DeMarco Murray a rising star as he's coming off his first healthy season, but again … led the league in rushing. Tough to “rise” too much from his 2014 performance. So in the spirit of this question, my pick is Eagles defensive end Fletcher Cox, who plays every snap at a grueling position and dominates in thankless work against the run. Cox can also help in the pass rush, though he's not often asked to. Opposing coaches already know Cox is a defensive player around whom they must devise a game plan. He doesn't play the highest-profile position, but he's the best player on the Eagles' defense and getting better.
Phil Sheridan, Philadelphia Eagles: Is Odell Beckham Jr. still rising? Or has he risen? Either way, I have to tip my cap to the Giants' young wide receiver. He made a huge splash with that three-fingered catch last season against Dallas, but also consistently put up huge numbers week after week. In the season finale against the Eagles, Beckham caught 12 passes for 185 yards, including a 63-yard touchdown. That was after months of seeing Beckham terrorize opponents and concocting a game plan to neutralize him. With his Madden cover victory, Beckham showed he has made a very big impression in a very short time.
John Keim, Washington Redskins: Can Odell Beckham Jr. still be considered a rising star? After all, he's been in the league only one year, but also happened to end the season as a star. But as of now, he's a player who could be a dominant force in the NFC East for the next five to 10 years. There aren't many others you can say that about. But I still have to go with him: The kid caught 91 passes for 1,305 yards receiving in only 12 games. As a rookie. Yikes. What will he do when he has a deeper knowledge of playing in the NFL? I wonder what impact Victor Cruz's return will have on Beckham. It will draw attention away from Beckham, but perhaps it'll also result in fewer attempts. The latter is hard to imagine, and Beckham will be the player to watch.