One knock in Green-Beckham’s game is his route running. Playing in Missouri’s spread offense, Green-Beckham wasn’t asked to run a variety of routes, and the offense instead relied more on one-on-one matchups. That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have the potential to improve his routes though, as he shows tremendous fluidity for an athlete his size.
Here you’ll see that Green-Beckham does a good job of first challenging the DB vertically and then being able to sink his hips, all while taking a minimal amount of steps breaking to the outside for the catch. Particularly in the first example, you can see that he quickly eats up the DB’s cushion. Once he sees that the DB opens up his hips to transition from his backpedal, he makes his break to the outside.
In fact, he consistently does a good job of selling the vertical threat by not making his break too early. He breaks here without having to slow down or chop his feet for additional ground contact, as most players his size need to do before changing directions. He effortlessly transitions his momentum and comes out of the break with a good 2 steps of separation on his defender.
This slant route was the last of his four touchdowns in his game against Kentucky. The previous three had all come on some variation of a fade route. This play illustrates the fact even though the slant was called he doesn’t abandon the threat of that fade route by breaking too early on the slant. As he makes his break, he even takes more of a down angle almost parallel to the goal line. What this does is that it shortens the distance and time the football needs to travel before getting to him. If he floats too much up field after his break, not only does it increase the distance and time the ball needs to travel but it also creates an angle for the defender to undercut the route. By running his route almost parallel to the goal line, he keeps the defender in a trail position and eliminates that angle for the DB to break up or intercept the pass.
Green-Beckham quickly eats up the DB’s cushion here getting him to abandon his backpedal early and once he crosses the defender’s face, it’s over. The DB has no chance. However, if you notice you can see him subtly raise his hips up a bit before making his break. He’ll need to work on this as he can’t give any hints in the NFL as to when he is going to make his break.
This is a 4th and 1 play in the 4th quarter against Auburn. Missouri is down 10 with about 4 minutes left in the game and they need to convert in order to keep the drive going. A slant is called and Green-Beckham needs to win on the route right away. The DB is already expecting a quick in-breaking route by setting up with inside leverage (DB’s outside shoulder is lined up on the receiver’s inside shoulder). At the snap of the ball, Green-Beckham takes a hop step. This does nothing and it’s essentially a wasted step as it doesn’t gain ground vertically or horizontally. With the defender already playing with inside leverage and it being 4th and 1, he can’t afford to have any wasted movements. The pass is broken up, turnover on downs. Auburn scores on the very next play and essentially ices the game.
As Green-Beckham approaches his defender, he takes some clumsy steps before crossing behind the defender. Doing this puts him in a tough spot now as he not only has a defender underneath him but a safety over the top, essentially forming a bracket around him. If however, he were to cross the initial defender’s face and run his route in front of him instead of behind him, Green-Beckham possibly has a chance to get open in the end zone as the weak side CB doesn’t get enough depth and seems to get sucked up by the action in front of him.
Open Field Ability
Missouri often ran bubble and jailbreak screens to Green-Beckham with good success. He showed good open field vision with decent wiggle for a receiver his size.
On this jailbreak screen, Green-Beckham showcases his ability to navigate through traffic with enough vision to run to the open grass. It’s rare for an athlete his size to be able to run like he does and it really shows you what he can do when we catches the ball in stride.
On these bubble screens, Green-Beckham shows off a stop and start move by using a subtle jab step that causes defenders to miss their mark or to over-pursue.
One criticism I have in his open field ability is his willingness to just absorb contact and bounce off would-be tacklers. And while he is still able to gain yards after the catch in this fashion due to his size and balance, it would serve him well to utilize his length more and incorporate a stiff-arm in these situations.
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