Draft season is (finally!) upon us, and as we look ahead at the next class of NHL hopefuls it’s also a good time to look back at those drafted before them in recent history — and examine the compelling, comparative questions that emerge by doing so.
Who was the best No. 1 overall pick over the last decade? The best fifth-overall selection? No. 23? Just for fun, we’ve reflected on the first-round picks since the 2010 draft — and highlighted the best players drafted at each first-round slot during that timespan.
For each draft spot, from No. 1 to 30 (we didn’t count 31, as the sample size is simply too small just yet) we picked one player who’s proven to be the best of his peers from that draft slot throughout the last 10 years.
For picks one through 10, we also included the full list of fellow picks for added context, which doubles as a good glimpse of the kind of talent that has landed in those top spots over the past 10 years.
While some choices proved tough to assess — most of the first-rounders taken just last year, for example, have yet to make their mark on the league, complicating their ranking — others stand out as both early-pick slam dunks and late first-round steals. Keep in mind, this is a current ranking — meaning, a few years from now, this list could look a lot different. (Spoiler alert: That 2015 draft class? Turns out, it really was really good.)
Let’s dig in.
No. 1 overall: Connor McDavid | 2015, Edmonton Oilers
General manager: Peter Chiarelli
The first 10 years of the 2000’s brought more first-overall franchise-changers and future Hall of Famers than not – Marc-Andre Fleury (2003), Alex Ovechkin (2004), Sidney Crosby (2005), Patrick Kane (2007), Steven Stamkos (2008), and John Tavares (2009) among them.
The second decade of the century looks like it’s on track for much of the same, highlighted by some of today’s best young stars and no-brainer No. 1 picks. It’s no surprise Connor McDavid, who was also Edmonton’s fourth first-overall pick of the decade, is the cream of this crop. The two-time Art Ross Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award winner and 2016-17 MVP still hasn’t yet hit his prime.
It’ll be fun to see how soon-to-be first overall pick Alexis Lafreniere sets the tone for the next decade of No. 1s.
Full list of No. 1 overall picks of the last decade: Taylor Hall (2010 Oilers), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2011 Oilers), Nail Yakupov (2012, Oilers), Nathan MacKinnon (2013, Avalanche), Aaron Ekblad (2014, Panthers), Connor McDavid (2015, Oilers), Auston Matthews (2016, Maple Leafs), Nico Hischier (2017, Devils), Rasmus Dahlin (2018, Sabres), Jack Hughes (2019, Devils)
No. 2 overall: Jack Eichel | 2015, Buffalo Sabres
General manager: Tim Murray
The slot that gave us Evgeni Malkin in 2004 (Penguins), Drew Doughty in 2008 (Kings) and newly-crowned Cup champ and reigning Conn Smythe winner Victor Hedman (2009, Lightning) in the first decade of the 2000’s also brought us Jack Eichel in 2015, who since landing in Buffalo hasn’t been able to come close to the promised land that those listed before him have.
He’ll forever be compared to McDavid, the lone 2015 prospect drafted ahead of him, which puts him in an unenviable position. His elite skill, strong leadership, and dynamic playmaking as one of the finest players in the game today would’ve seen him taken first overall in most other draft classes.
Full list of No. 2 overall picks of the last decade: Tyler Seguin (2010, Bruins), Gabriel Landeskog (2011, Avalanche), Ryan Murray (2012, Blue Jackets), Aleksander Barkov (2013, Panthers), Sam Reinhart (2014, Sabres), Jack Eichel (2015, Sabres), Patrik Laine (2016, Jets), Nolan Patrick (2017 Flyers), Andrei Svechnikov (2018 Hurricanes), Kaapo Kakko (2019 Rangers)
No. 3 overall: Leon Draisaitl | 2014, Edmonton Oilers
General manager: Craig MacTavish
With back-to-back seasons surpassing 100 points and a trophy cabinet that’s already filling up nicely, Draisaitl would be the top pick of a 2014 redraft (though, David Pastrnak might have something to say about that).
Full list of No. 3 overall picks of the last decade: Erik Gudbranson (2010, Panthers), Jonathan Huberdeau (2011, Panthers), Alex Galchenyuk (2012, Canadiens), Jonathan Drouin (2013, Lightning), Leon Draisaitl (2014, Oilers), Dylan Strome (2015, Coyotes), Pierre-Luc Dubois (2016, Blue Jackets), Miro Heiskanen (2017, Stars), Jesperi Kotkaniemi (2018, Canadiens), Kirby Dach (2019, Blackhawks)
No. 4 overall: Cale Makar | 2017, Colorado Avalanche
General manager: Joe Sakic
How much do you value an offensive weapon (a.k.a Mitch Marner) versus an elite lockdown defender (hello, Seth Jones)? Okay, now how about we take both? That’s where Makar comes in.
Of the three fourth-overall picks we’ve highlighted here, he’s got the smallest sample size to look at, but this year’s Calder Memorial Trophy winner has wasted no time making his mark on the league and will no doubt be one of the best blue liners in the game in the next few years — if he’s not there already.
Fun fact: Just last year, the Avalanche again had the fourth-overall pick thanks to a trade with the Ottawa Senators — and again picked up another elite defenceman, this time in Bowen Byram. Bright days ahead for Colorado’s blue line.
Full list of No. 4 overall picks of the last decade: Ryan Johansen (2010, Columbus), Adam Larsson (2011, Devils), Griffin Reinhart (2012, Islanders), Seth Jones (2013, Predators), Sam Bennett (2014, Flames), Mitch Marner (2015, Maple Leafs), Jesse Puljujarvi (2016, Oilers), Cale Makar (2017, Avalanche), Brady Tkachuk (2018, Senators), Bowen Byram (2019, Avalanche)
No. 5 overall: Elias Pettersson | 2017, Vancouver Canucks
General manager: Jim Benning
In Pettersson, Benning got first-overall talent at a fifth-overall draft spot. When you look at that 2017 draft, which featured Nico Hischier and Nolan Patrick at the top two spots, it’s picks three through five (Miro Heiskanen, Makar, Pettersson) who would be vying for that top spot in a redraft.
Full list of No. 5 overall picks of the last decade: Nino Niederreiter (2010, Islanders), Ryan Strome (2011, Islanders), Morgan Rielly (2012, Maple Leafs), Elias Lindholm (2013, Hurricanes), Michael Dal Colle (2014, Islanders), Noah Hanifin (2015, Hurricanes), Olli Juolevi (2016, Canucks), Elias Pettersson (2017, Canucks), Barrett Hayton (2018, Coyotes), Alex Turcotte (2019, Kings)
No. 6 overall: Matthew Tkachuk | 2016, Calgary Flames
General manager: Brad Treliving
In a star-studded class that saw Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine taken one-two, the Flames picked up a real gem at sixth overall in Tkachuk — and in doing so, landed their future leading score, top agitator, and fan favourite in Calgary.
Full list of No. 6 overall picks of the last decade: Brett Connolly (Lightning, 2010), Mika Zibanejad (2011, Senators), Hampus Lindholm (2012, Ducks), Sean Monahan (2013, Flames), Jake Virtanen (2014, Canucks), Pavel Zacha (2015, Devils), Matthew Tkachuk (2016, Flames) Cody Glass (2017, Golden Knights), Filip Zadina (2018, Red Wings), Moritz Seider (2019, Red Wings)
No. 7 overall: Quinn Hughes | 2018, Vancouver Canucks
General manager: Jim Benning
Before this season, we probably would’ve said this slot belongs to Mark Scheifele (2011, Jets) — he is, after all, one of the most valuable, smartest, and most complete centres in the game. But what Quinn Hughes did for Vancouver’s blue line this year, instantly becoming their top rearguard and challenging Makar for the Calder all year, makes GM Jim Benning’s seventh-overall selection in 2018 one of his all-time best selections.
Full list of No. 7 overall picks of the last decade: Jeff Skinner (2010, Hurricanes), Mark Scheifele (2011, Jets), Mathew Dumba (2012, Wild), Darnell Nurse (2013, Oilers), Haydn Fleury (2014, Hurricanes), Ivan Provarov (2015, Flyers), Clayton Keller (2016, Coyotes), Lias Andersson (2017, Rangers), Quinn Hughes (2018, Canucks), Dylan Cozens (2019, Sabres)
No. 8 overall: Zach Werenski | 2015, Columbus Blue Jackets
General manager: Jarmo Kekalainen
A stacked 2015 draft class on offence (McDavid, Eichel, Strome, Marner) pushed Werenski back, and he wasn’t even the first defenceman taken — Noah Hanifin and Ivan Provorov went before him that year.
Full list of No. 8 overall picks of the last decade: Alexander Burmistrov (2010, Thrashers), Sean Couturier (2011, Flyers), Derrick Pouliot (2012, Penguins) Rasmus Ristolainen (2013, Sabres), William Nylander (2014, Maple Leafs), Zach Werenski (2015, Blue Jackets), Alexander Nylander (2016, Sabres), Casey Mittelstadt (2017, Sabres), Adam Boqvist (2018, Blackhawks), Philip Broberg (2019, Oilers)
No. 9 overall: Dougie Hamilton | 2011, Boston Bruins
General manager: Peter Chiarelli
Hamilton is two teams removed from the one that took him ninth overall, but there’s no doubt he’s found his fit in Carolina as one of the premier puck-movers in the league.
Full list of No. 9 overall picks of the last decade: Mikael Granlund (2010, Wild), Dougie Hamilton (2011, Bruins), Jacob Trouba (2012, Jets), Bo Horvat (2013, Canucks), Nikolaj Ehlers (2014, Jets), Timo Meier (2015, Sharks), Mikhail Sergachev (2016, Canadiens), Michael Rasmussen (2017, Red Wings), Vitali Kravtsov (2018, Rangers), Trevor Zegras (2019, Ducks)
No. 10 overall: Mikko Rantanen | 2015, Colorado Avalanche
General manager: Joe Sakic
Vasily Podkolvin, whose contract in Russia gave teams pause and held them back from calling his name earlier, could very well prove to be a gift from the Hockey Gods to the Canucks — his performance overseas suggest that will be the case. But we’ll have to wait and see on that one.
Rantanen, who broke out in 2017-2018 and has scored at better than a point-per-game pace since, is our clear standout right now. He’s also another reminder of just how elite that 2015 class was.
Full list of No. 10 overall picks of the last decade: Dylan McIlrath (2010, Rangers), Jonas Brodin (2011, Wild), Slater Koekkoek (2012, Lightning), Valeri Nichushkin (2013, Stars), Nicholas Ritchie (2014, Ducks), Mikko Rantanen (2015 Avalanche), Tyson Jost (2016, Avalanche), Owen Tippett (2017, Panthers), Evan Bouchard (2018, Oilers), Vasily Podkolvin (2019, Canucks)
No. 11 overall: Filip Forsberg | 2012, Washington Capitals
General manager: George McPhee
His emergence in 2014-2015 helped usher in the Nashville Predators’ most successful stretch, and he remains a leader on the team as the club looks to recalibrate for another shot at contention.
His name brings about painful memories for Capitals faithful, as Forsberg was sent to Nashville for Martin Erat and Michael Latta — a trade that, well… didn’t exactly pan out for Washington.
No. 12 overall: Max Domi | 2013, Phoenix Coyotes
General manager: Don Maloney
An up-and-down start to his career in Arizona brought a fresh start in Montreal, where he’s become an important part of the rebuilding Canadiens.
No. 13 overall: Josh Morrissey | 2013, Winnipeg Jets
General manager: Kevin Cheveldayoff
One of the more underrated defencemen in today’s game, Morrissey should be counted among the best Canadian blue liners going forward.
No. 14 overall: Charlie McAvoy | 2016, Boston Bruins
General manager: Don Sweeney
The top-pairing rearguard has been a mainstay on the Bruins’ blue line since his debut in 2017.
No. 15 overall: Dylan Larkin | 2014, Detroit Red Wings
General manager: Ken Holland
Erik Brannstrom, who was picked in 2018, might blossom into being the best at the 15th spot with a few more years, but Dylan Larkin is our standout at this slot from the past decade. Now, imagine what he’ll be able to do once Steve Yzerman is done crafting this club.
No. 16 overall: Vladimir Tarasenko | 2010, St. Louis Blues
General manager: Larry Pleau
A few more years of watching Mathew Barzal light it up on Long Island will probably change this, but Tarasenko’s impact in St. Louis — former GM Larry Pleau’s parting gift to the Blues — and clutch play with the 2019 Cup champs puts him atop our list.
No. 17 overall: Kyle Connor | 2015, Winnipeg Jets
General manager: Kevin Cheveldayoff
Having been drafted one year before Patrik Laine came along and making his debut during Laine’s rookie year, Connor is one of the more underrated playmakers out there. Back-to-back-to-back 30-plus goal seasons gives Connor the team lead in goals since he became a full-time NHLer in 2017-18.
No. 18 overall: Thomas Chabot | 2015, Ottawa Senators
General manager: Bryan Murray
We’ve only just seen the beginning of what speedster Liam Foudy can do, but we’ve seen enough from Chabot to know he’s a star who’s just getting started — and one of the most important pillars of the Senators’ rebuilt (and still-rebuilding) blue line.
No. 19 overall: Andrei Vasilevskiy | 2012, Tampa Bay Lightning
General manager: Steve Yzerman
Goaltenders aren’t often drafted in the first round — because they tend to be slower to develop, they can be tougher to assess at a younger age — but this one was clearly a slam-dunk for Tampa Bay, who relied heavily on Vasilevskiy throughout their Cup run all the way to the top.
No. 20 overall: Robert Thomas | 2017, St. Louis Blues
General manager: Doug Armstrong
Ville Heinola gave us a glimpse of the future of the Jets’ blue line, and it looks bright. But we’ll put Thomas, whose emergence during the Blues’ incredible Cup run in 2018-19 and versatility in Year Two makes him a soon-to-be top-six lock in St. Louis, on our list for now.
No. 21 overall: Colin White | 2015, Ottawa Senators
General manager: Bryan Murray
Not the most lucrative draft slot based on this past decade’s picks at 21, but in Colin White the Senators have an offensive threat that can help propel their rebuild forward.
No. 22 overall: Ilya Samsonov | 2015, Washington Capitals
General manager: Brian MacLellan
When it comes to goalies, you’ve got to plan ahead. Braden Holtby had just completed one of his most impressive campaigns when the Capitals drafted Samsonov back in 2015 with the hopes they’d found their next next great netminder. Five years later, he’s taken over the throne and the spotlight’s officially shifted to him while Holtby appears to be heading to free agency.
No. 23 overall: Brock Boeser | 2015, Vancouver Canucks
General manager: Jim Benning
Another star of that stacked 2015 class — and another excellent pick made by Benning since he took the reins in 2014.
No. 24 overall: Kevin Hayes | 2010, Chicago Blackhawks
General manager: Stan Bowman
This one comes down to two players, and they’re both on the Flyers. While Travis Konecny (another 2015 gem!) has the higher ceiling, it’s Hayes who stood out during the playoffs, and he gets the edge… for now.
No. 25 overall: David Pastrnak | 2014, Boston Bruins
General manager: Peter Chiarelli
Chiarelli’s final draft of his Bruins tenure brought one heck of a parting gift — and one of the biggest first-round steals to be had.
No. 26 overall: Evgeni Kuznetsov | 2010, Washington Capitals
General manager: George McPhee
Vegas’ Shea Theodore (2013, Ducks) gets a good, long look as one of the game’s next great rearguards, but Kuznetsov’s consistent scoring (particularly during the Capitals’ Stanley Cup run, when he tallied 32 points in 24 games) makes him the star at 26th overall.
No. 27 overall: Vladislav Namestnikov | 2011, Tampa Bay Lightning
General manager: Steve Yzerman
You could argue on a technicality that, of the players drafted 28th overall in the past 10 years, it’s Nolan Foote (2019, Lightning) who’s had the biggest impact — he was, after all, a big piece of the puzzle that convinced the New Jersey Devils to send forward Blake Coleman to Tampa Bay in a trade with the eventual Stanley Cup champs. But for the sake of selecting those currently in the league, Namestnikov — another Lightning pick — gets the nod here.
Though he has yet to really settle into a market long-term, the production has been there and he remains a strong free-agency option for teams looking for secondary scoring.
No. 28 overall: Charlie Coyle | 2010, San Jose Sharks
General manager: Doug Wilson
Coyle is one of the few players on this list who didn’t actually suit up for the team that drafted him, as he was dealt to Minnesota as part of a package for Brent Burns in 2011. That Burns turned into a stud defenceman certainly hurt the perception of Coyle, but Coyle’s steady scoring presence followed by his resurgence with the Bruins last year makes him a success as far as late first-rounders go.
No. 29 overall: Rasmus Sandin | 2018, Toronto Maple Leafs
General manager: Kyle Dubas
Dubas’ first draft pick as an NHL GM, Rasmus’ career is still ahead of him but his strong development with the AHL’s Marlies have him trending in the direction of a top-four d-man on a blue line that needs more of those.
No. 30 overall: Rickard Rackell | 2011, Anaheim Ducks
General manager: Bob Murray
Rackell has reached the 40-point plateau in all but one of his six seasons as a full-time NHLer, twice surpassing 50 with his best seasons coming in 2017-18 at 69 points.
Beckham out for season with torn ACL – theScore
Beckham went down Sunday in the first quarter while attempting to tackle Cincinnati Bengals defensive back Darius Phillips, who was returning a Baker Mayfield interception. The Browns feared Beckham had suffered a significant injury on the play.
“The ball to Odell, we knew we were going to have a one-on-one and wanted to give him a chance,” Mayfield lamented after the game, which the Browns won. “I didn’t do that and left it short and inside. I am probably going to beat myself up about that one for a long time. He is a guy who fights for this team, and in doing that, he got hurt. Prayers and hopes for the best. That one sucks.”
Beckham will finish his second campaign in Cleveland with 23 receptions for 319 yards and four total touchdowns across seven appearances. He had 74 receptions for 1,035 yards and four touchdowns last year, marking the least productive season of his career outside of 2017, when he played only four games.
The Browns acquired Beckham in a blockbuster trade with the New York Giants in March 2019. He will turn 28 on Nov. 5 and is signed through the 2023 season.
Beckham is on the books for $15.75 million in 2021, with $12.8 million of it guaranteed for injury.
Garoppolo shines in return to NE; Niners crush Patriots 33-6 – Yahoo Canada Sports
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Jimmy Garoppolo was once considered to be the man in waiting to take over at quarterback in New England for Tom Brady.
Now he’s the guy who helped hand the Patriots their worst home loss under Bill Belichick.
Jeff Wilson Jr. rushed for a career-high three touchdowns and 112 yards before leaving with an ankle injury and the San Francisco 49ers crushed New England 33-6 on Sunday.
Garoppolo finished 20 of 25 for 277 yards with two interceptions in his first game against his former team. San Francisco (4-3) has followed back-to-back losses with consecutive wins and is 3-0 on the road.
“It was an exciting night. Lot of emotions. Couldn’t imagine it going any better than this,” Garoppolo said.
The Patriots’ 27-point loss was their largest at home under Belichick. They had gone 286 games without a three-game losing streak, the longest span between three-game slides in NFL history. New England fell to 2-4 for the first since Belichick’s first season in 2000, when the Patriots went 5-11.
New England was outgained 467-241 in total yards.
“We were clearly out-coached, outplayed. Just out-everything,” Belichick said. “We’re still a long way from where we need to be. That’s obvious.”
San Francisco’s Brandon Aiyuk had six catches for 115 yards and Deebo Samuel had five catches for 65 yards before leaving the game with a hamstring injury.
“When we got them down, we got to keep them down, don’t want to give them any chance to breathe. I thought we did that tonight,” Garoppolo said. “Started from the first snap and carried its way throughout the whole game.”
Cam Newton struggled for the Patriots, completing 9 of 15 passes for 98 yards and three interceptions before being replaced by Jarrett Stidham in the fourth quarter. Stidham was 6 of 10 for 64 yards and an interception.
Belichick said his plan is to keep Newton as the starter.
“Yeah, absolutely,” he said.
Newton was out of sync from the outset, making poor reads and poorer throws. Garoppolo, meanwhile, was successful in spreading out New England’s defence with a steady diet of passes behind the line of scrimmage and jet sweeps to get the ball into the hands of Wilson, Samuel and tight end George Kittle.
San Francisco dominated the first half, taking a 23-3 lead, holding the ball for 22:30 and racking up a 301-59 advantage in total yards. The Patriots managed four first downs to the 49ers’ 18.
The Niners took just over five minutes and nine plays to march 75 yards and take a 7-0 lead on 3-yard run by Wilson. It was the first time the Patriots have allowed a touchdown on an opponent’s opening drive at home since Week 4 of 2016 against Buffalo.
Following a Patriots punt, San Francisco was pinned inside its 15. Long completions by Garoppolo helped erase some early penalty losses before he missed high on a pass for Kittle and was intercepted by Devin McCourty.
San Francisco’s defence limited the damage, yielding a 40-yard field goal by Nick Folk.
That wasn’t the case for the Patriots later in the second quarter.
Trailing 10-3, Newton made a bad play worse when he tried to dump off the ball on the run to receiver Jakobi Meyers. It was picked off by linebacker Fred Warner. Five plays later, the 49ers capitalized on a 4-yard touchdown run by Kyle Juszczyk.
The lead grew to 23-3 with just under a minute to go before halftime on a 16-yard run by Wilson.
“D just played impressive the whole day. I thought special teams and offence did, too. It was an extremely physical game,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “It was fun to watch.”
49ers: WR Richie James left with an ankle injury. … Wilson had just crossed into the end zone following his third TD when his leg twisted as he was tackled. He stayed down on the field before walking off under his own power. Shanahan said the tentative diagnosis is a high ankle sprain. “Not sounding great right now,” he said.
Patriots: WR N’Keal Harry left with a head injury and did not return. … LG Joe Thuney departed with an ankle injury. … RT Justin Herron also left with an ankle injury.
With an 11-yard pass to Jakobi Meyers in the third quarter, Newton became the 48th NFL quarterback to reach the 30,000-yard plateau.
He also became the first NFL player to pass for 30,000 yards and rush for 5,000 yards in his career.
The 49ers head to Seattle next Sunday. The Patriots visit Buffalo.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
Kyle Hightower, The Associated Press
Browns star Odell Beckham Jr. done for season with torn ACL – Sportsnet.ca
CLEVELAND — Odell Beckham Jr. was in a much better place emotionally and physically. This was going to be the season he changed minds.
He was determined to make 2020 _ and its many obstacles — a special year, re-establish himself as one of the NFL’s best players and lead the Browns back to the playoffs, along with with best friend and teammate Jarvis Landry.
Beckham won’t get the chance.
The star receiver’s second season with Cleveland ended on Monday after an MRI confirmed he sustained a torn left knee ligament in the opening minutes of Sunday’s 37-34 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Beckham’s injury is a devastating personal blow and a potentially major setback to the Browns, who are off to their best start since 1994 and eyeing their first post-season appearance in 18 years.
They’ll have to get there without Beckham.
“Obviously, it’s a big loss,” coach Kevin Stefanski said. “He’s a huge part of what we do, so now we just have to huddle up and find some different ways and find some different people and put them in that role. … I’m sick for Odell.”
The three-time Pro Bowler got hurt when his left leg buckled while he was trying to make a tackle after Baker Mayfield’s first pass was intercepted by Bengals cornerback Darius Phillips.
An MRI taken Monday in Cleveland confirmed the diagnosis of the torn ACL, an injury that typically requires nine months to one year of recovery time. The team said Beckham will be placed on injured reserve, but Stefanski did not have a timetable on when he will have surgery.
On what became his final play of 2020, Beckham, who was slowed last season by a core muscle injury, was chasing Phillips down the sideline when his leg got twisted awkwardly. He immediately grabbed it, was taken directly to the locker room and didn’t return.
The Browns (5-2) played well without Beckham, who for all his talent hasn’t been able to make a strong connection with Mayfield since arriving in a blockbuster trade from the New York Giants before last season. The three-time Pro Bowler played most of 2019 with an injury that required off-season surgery.
After Beckham went out Sunday, Mayfield completed 21 consecutive passes and threw five TD passes _ matching a franchise record _ as the Browns outlasted Joe Burrow and the Bengals.
Mayfield was also without injured running back Nick Chubb, tight end Austin Hooper and Landry played with a broken rib. But the third-year QB had one of his best games by making plays with rookie tight end Harrison Bryant (two TDs), Rashard Higgins (six catches) and rookie receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, who entered the game without a catch and grabbed Mayfield’s winning TD pass with 11 seconds left
Cleveland, which hasn’t made the post-season since 2002, will have to go the rest of the way without Beckham, who turns 28 on Nov. 5. He had 23 catches for 319 yards and three touchdowns this season and scored on a 50-yard touchdown run.
Beckham’s presence alone made defences account for him on every snap.
“Odell, the energy he brings to practice, the energy he brings to games. No one else is going to be able to bring that type of juice,” Stefanski said. “But it’s our job to find the guys that can go compete and we’ll put them in spots where they can succeed and think we’ll be able to do that.
“It’s not easy. I don’t want to have to do it and I’m very disappointed for Odell, but that’s the nature of this beast. Injuries are part of this thing and that doesn’t mean any of us have to like it, but we do have to deal with it.”
While Beckham had continued to make some headlines with off-the-field antics, he had been emerging as a leader on the Browns. He was healthier than he had been in several years and showing some of the breakaway speed that made him so dangerous with the Giants.
The torn ACL is the latest injury for Beckham, who was the AP’s Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2014 after being drafted with the No. 12 overall pick by New York. He made the Pro Bowl in his first three seasons, but was limited to four games in 2017 with a broken ankle and 12 games in 2018 with a bruised quadriceps.
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