Whatever you do, don’t call him Wes Welker.
Cole Beasley will take other NFL comparisons, but just not Welker, a stance he made clear as a rookie undrafted free agent with the Dallas Cowboys in 2012.
A few more games like Sunday though – a few more seasons like he’s putting together this year – and the comparisons might become unavoidable.
Beasley has become the latest unheralded, undersized, under-scouted wideout to blow up in a big way, and his budding bond with Dak Prescott is a major reason Dallas is off to a 5-1 start without Tony Romo and with Dez Bryant missing games.
Prescott may be in contention for MVP honors, and Ezekiel Elliott is getting major Rookie of the Year buzz, but Beasley has been the glue to the Dallas offense, and sometimes, even more than the glue.
Beasley caught 2 of Prescott’s 3 touchdown passes in Dallas’ 30-16 win against Green Bay on Sunday, giving him 3 scores in two games.
Beasley, like Welker, has watched his role expand year-over-year, but unlike Welker, it didn’t take a change of scenery for Beasley to land a more prominent role – or a big paycheck.
Beasley had 128 yards on 15 receptions in 10 games as a rookie, and improved to 368 yards on 39 catches in Year 2. He jumped to 420 yards and 4 scores in his third season, re-signed for nearly $14 million and hauled in 52 passes for 536 yards last year.
With Bryant sidelined this year, Beasley has become the most reliable fixture in the passing game. He’s had 6 or more targets in four of six games, with at least 53 yards in every matchup, and he’s on pace for 1,040 yards on the year.
Not bad for a high school quarterback-turned-wide receiver from Southern Methodist. Beasley was a lightly recruited dual-threat out of high school but only showed NFL promise as a junior, catching 87 passes for 1,060 yards and 6 touchdowns before following up with 1,040 yards and 86 catches as a senior.
That wasn’t enough to get drafted, but it was enough to catch Dallas’ eye, and the hometown team took a flyer on the flyer.
Now he’s paying dividends.
“He’s a guy the quarterbacks like to throw to,” Dallas head coach Jason Garrett said in late September. “They like to throw to him in practice; they like to throw to him in games. One of the reasons is he gets open, and he finishes the play. He’s done a good job for us. He’s one of a number of different weapons we have on offense, so defenses can’t simply focus on him, but even when they do, he seems to get open and make plays for us.”
And that was before Beasley proved such a capable red zone target.
During the summer, Beasley got some work in with his actual favorite receiver, Randy Moss. The two were paired up by a mutual financial advisor. Beasley is showing off a thing or two from his session with Moss, and he said he would continue to pry Moss for answers during the regular season.
That is, if he can get over the insult of one cruel comparison.
“Cole was a shifty guy, a little speedster guy, very quick, reminded me of a lot things Wes Welker did in the slot,” Moss told ESPN of his partnership with Beasley.
Don’t tell Beasley that.