In the wake of John Dorsey's monster trade, a look at the days of Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry as college teammates, an ongoing bond, and prospects for their reunion with the Cleveland Browns.
John Dorsey may have gift-wrapped not one but two new wide receivers for Baker Mayfield,
One is Odell Beckham, the superstar who officially became a Brown at 4 p.m., Wednesday.
The other one is the old Jarvis Landry.
Dorsey, who triggered a Lake Erie tsunami Tuesday by finishing a deal to acquire Beckham, traded for Landry last March. Landry had established himself as a top slot receiver across four seasons with the Dolphins.
With the 2018 Browns, Landry was a No. 1 wideout who became the focal point of opposing defenses. Without established threats to draw off pressure, he put up strong but not flashy numbers, 81 catches for 976 yards. His best Miami season was 110 catches for 1,157 yards.
With Beckham in the huddle, Landry can hope to be as open as he often was in college, where his running mate was Beckham.
The last LSU season for both of them was 2013, with Zach Mettenberger as their quarterback. Landry actually led Beckham in catches (77-59), receiving yards (1,193-1,152) and touchdowns (10-8). Beckham was better in yards per catch (19.5-15.5).
In a 44-41 loss to Georgia, Landry caught 10 balls for 156 yards; Beckham caught six for 118 yards. In a win at Mississippi State a week later, Beckham (9-179, two TDs) and Landry (8-96) both were busy again.
Some days, LSU's game plan featured running backs Jeremy Hill, Terrance Magee and Alfred Blue. The Tigers ran the ball 52 times in a 34-10 win over Johnny Manziel's Texas A&M team, a game in which Mettenberger completed 11 passes, mostly to Landry (4-87) and Beckham (5-50).
Landry (56-573) and Beckham (43-713) also were Mettenberger's top targets in 2012. In 2011, Beckham (41-475) was breaking through; Landry (4-43) was still off the radar.
Heading into the 2014 draft, Beckham and Landry were similar in size, both a shade taller than 5-foot-11 and around 200 pounds. Their stock separated at the combine, where Beckham ran a 40 in the 4.4 range, while Landry, grinding it out on a balky hamstring, was above 4.7.
Mike Mayock, now the general manager of the Raiders, didn't love Landry going into the '14 draft, pegging him as the 57th-best player available. Mayock had Beckham at No. 17 alongside this scouting report:
"Quick hands and feet to slip the jam. Fluid and fast. Good balance. Sinks his hips and changes gears to create separation. Quick hands to pluck off his frame. Terrific leaping ability. Creates after the catch. Confident and competitive."
Mayock added, "I'm not sure which one is the better football player, but Beckham certainly helped himself with his speed, his smoothness and his route running. It's really good."
The scouting consensus: Landry was good at exploiting man coverage underneath while Beckham drew extra coverage down the field.
On draft day, after Cleveland picked cornerback Justin Gilbert at No. 8 overall, Beckham went to the Giants at No. 12. Landry lasted until the end of the second round, when the Dolphins took him at No. 63.
They were friends before college, meeting as Louisiana high school juniors. They stayed close after going pro in more ways than one.
From 2014-16, both had 288 catches, an NFL record through three seasons.
In 2015, before a Giants-Dolphins game, Beckham said:
“Jarvis and I play very similar. He’s got a little more shiftiness to him, getting in and out of things. I tell our guys, don’t sleep on him.’
“With us, it’s not typical receiver competitiveness, comparing numbers, as much as I just want to see him be the greatest receiver of all time. I think it’s the same for me. We’re going to push each other to be the best."
In January of 2017, as part of Pro Bowl week, Beckham was in the lead in a "best hands" skill game with only one player yet to compete. It was Landry.
After Landry's score was posted, forcing Beckham to settle for second place, Beckham made a playful charge and tackled his old friend.
Having traded for both of them now, Dorsey hopes the fun is about to start in Cleveland.
It will start in training camp, when Landry and Beckham will put on a show in individual drills and casual warmups by making trick catches. They began the practice at LSU, playing a game of one upsmanship against each other. Who could make more impossible catches? How many balls in a row could be caught using just one hand?
Adam Henry, entering his second year as Cleveland's wide receivers coach, was the position coach to Beckham and Landry in 2012 and 2013 at LSU. Henry had coached with the Raiders from 2007-11 and was set in his ways. His first impulse was to tell the two wideouts to quit horsing around and take practice seriously.
"It probably took me a year to get used to it," Henry told the New York Daily News before Landry faced Beckham in a Dolphins-Giants game. "When Cam Cameron came in as offensive coordinator (in 2013), he's like, 'Coach, they can't do that.' I'm like, 'Yes, they can. They're different.'"
"There's such a thing as good hands, and there are great hands. But the most important things you can have is confident hands. That's what they built. They built confidence.
"They could move around, they learned the whole scheme. They understood the whole route tree; that's why their transition to the NFL was smoother."
By the end of 2013, when Landry and Beckham combined for 2,345 yards and 18 touchdowns in 13 games, Cameron believed.
Now, with Henry as their coach, with Landry and Beckham together as sixth-year pros in the heart of their professional primes, how dangerous will they be with an emerging Mayfield?
Reach Steve at 330-580-8347 or
On Twitter: @sdoerschukREP