Looking at where Odell Beckham Jr. might fit best

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The next step in the ongoing discussion of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is finding out where the receiver is going to sign. After clearing waivers on Tuesday, Beckham is a free agent for the first time in his career.

That has led to speculation about his landing spot, and rumors about where the receivers wants to play next. But it might be worth thinking about how he might fit in with some potential teams from a schematic standpoint. How would he be used in some different offenses, and what can he offer them from a play-design standpoint.

Let’s look at three potential landing spots for Beckham’s services, and try and figure out how he would be utilized, and how his new team could benefit from his skill-set.

Green Bay Packers

(Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports)

One of the teams heavily rumored to be in the mix for Beckham’s services — and if the reporting is true the team that the receiver himself eyes as a top landing spot — is the Green Bay Packers.

While this landing spot might make sense for some big-picture reasons (Beckham reportedly wants to land with a contender, the Packers would love to add a weapon for Aaron Rodgers across from Davante Adams) there are also some schematic reasons why this could be an ideal landing spot.

First up, the back-shoulder fade. Now certainly one cannot construct an offense comprised solely of back-shoulder throws, but as we have seen throughout his time in Green Bay, Rodgers is among the best at delivering this route:

Adding Beckham to the Packers offense would give them the ability to use both Adams and Beckham on these back-shoulder throws. When the Packers align in a 3×1 formation, either of those receivers could be the backside option on the vertical route if Rodgers likes the matchup, or if not then the QB can read out the concept to the front side.

Speaking of 3×1 formations, another reason why this could be a good pairing is how the Browns used Beckham this season, and how that meshes well with Rodgers. As Doug Farrar wrote recently, and Seth Galina broke down recently in a video, the Browns often used Beckham as the backside dig option in 3×1 formations. Mayfield would read out the concept to the front side of the formation, and have Beckham working across the middle from the backside:

Adding Beckham to this offense would not take a massive adjustment, thanks to these two concepts. The receiver would be paired with a quarterback willing to challenge any window and to bring his eyes to the backside of concepts, and the Packers would get a receiver who could be implemented immediately without a big adjustment period.

There are a lot of reasons why this pairing makes sense. But that could be said for some other teams as well.

New Orleans Saints

(John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports)

The need for receiver help in New Orleans for the Saints should be obvious. With Michael Thomas on the shelf for the season, and Jameis Winston joining him thanks to a recent knee injury, the Saints need to find ways to create explosive plays in the passing game for Trevor Siemian.

While his fit with the Packers focused more on what Beckham can offer in the downfield passing game, his fit in New Orleans — from a schematic perspective — rests on what Beckham offers in other areas of the field. With what Siemian does well as a passer, and with how Payton generally constructs his offense, Beckham’s ability underneath and in the quick passing game would be the pitch here.

Even at this point in his career, Beckham offers yardage after the catch opportunities, as well as the ability to work underneath against defenses and in the three-step quick game.

Take this slant route against the Bears:

While the pitch from the Packers to Beckham likely focuses on the vertical game, the fit and pitch from Payton likely focuses on how the Saints can feed him targets in the short passing game. While in Green Bay Beckham would be fighting with Adams for opportunities, in New Orleans he would likely slide into the WR1 spot off the jump.

Plus, it would be a homecoming of sorts for Beckham, who played his college ball at LSU and was born in Baton Rouge. Add that to the opportunity to showcase his talents as a WR1 option before perhaps hitting free agency again (should he sign a one-year deal) and this could be an ideal landing spot for him.

Kansas City Chiefs

(AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

Kansas City Chiefs fans are hoping that Sunday’s win over the Green Bay Packers is the catalyst for a strong run in the second half of the season.

Adding Beckham to the offense would be another bolt of energy to a unit that has faced questions in recent weeks.

By now you have probably read all the articles opining about how the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes have a Cover-2 problem (and perhaps even my ill-fated attempt at explaining how they will overcome it in the passing game). But how Beckham would fit in Kansas City starts again with the idea of the backside dig route.

This season, one of the players that Andy Reid and Eric Bieniemy have tasked with that is tight end Travis Kelce, out of Y-Iso alignments. You saw it against the Tennessee Titans, on a throw that ended up an incompletion from backup quarterback Chad Henne:

Now picture Beckham running that backside route out of the 3×1 formation. What does that create? A chance for the Chiefs to get into formations where Beckham is the backside option, and both Kelce and Tyreek Hill are in the frontside of the formation in the three-receiver trips.

Take this play against the Washington Football Team:

On this 3rd and 4 play, Kansas City aligns with a three-receiver bunch to the left with Hill, Kelce and Demarcus Robinson. Mecole Hardman is the single receiver to the right side. Washington shows a two-high safety look before the snap, but they rotate into a Cover-1 Cross coverage, bringing down a safety to help take away in-breaking routes.

Both of which Hill and Kelce run.

So what does Mahomes do? Look backside to Hardman on the vertical route.

Now imagine it is Beckham running that design. What do you do as a defense? You might feel comfortable leaving a corner in single coverage against other receivers without safety help, but Beckham might change the equation. Perhaps you keep both safeties deep, which in this case would open up the crossers from both Hill and Kelce.

Adding Beckham into this mix would give the Chiefs a number of different combinations to play with from an alignment and personnel standpoint, forcing defenses to answer some tough questions before the snap. From where I sit, anytime you are doing that as an offense, you’re playing on solid footing.

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