EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Odell Beckham Jr. faced Vontae Davis and Richard Sherman early in his rookie year. Both were at the top of their game at the time. They were established Pro Bowl cornerbacks while Beckham was still a relative unknown with a few career games under his belt.
Neither followed Beckham around the field, covering him whenever he entered their territory. The rookie receiver topped 100 yards in each of those games as it was becoming obvious he was emerging into a star.
"You're the real deal," Sherman told Beckham after that 2014 contest, even if he faced him only sporadically throughout the game.
Little did Beckham know at the time but that likely was the best cornerback he would face the first four seasons of his career. It's going to change Sunday when the New York Giants host Jalen Ramsey and the Jacksonville Jaguars at MetLife Stadium.
Ramsey is a fast-talking, butt-kicking, uber-confident, physical first-team All-Pro cornerback who should see Beckham plenty (but not exclusively) this week.
"If he's not 1A, he's 1B," Beckham said Wednesday when asked if Ramsey was the league's best cornerback. "The only person I know like that is [Cardinals CB] Patrick Peterson.
"[Ramsey is] what, 6-3, 215, he runs 4.30 [40-yard dash.] He's got all the intangibles. He's athletic and he's just good. Like I said, he's just one of the best in the league. He does it all."
The Giants wide receivers were able to get a quality scouting report on Ramsey over the summer. They had a player on the roster who knows his game well.
Travis Rudolph, who was released during final cuts over the weekend, played with Ramsey at Florida State. He matched against Ramsey daily while he was there. If his teammates asked over the summer, he had a scouting report.
"I say he's a guy with big nuts," Rudolph said. "You have to love that type of player. Back against the wall, put it on me. He's always been that type of player. That's one thing about him, he's a hard worker. He's very disciplined. Overall, he's a great player."
Ramsey, 23, is unlike anything Beckham has seen so far in his career. He's so good that Beckham thinks he can fall into the Deion Sanders category as one of the greatest cornerbacks of all-time by the time his career concludes.
That's high praise. It's also a different level than anything Beckham has faced.
My list of the top five cornerbacks Beckham has matched up against in his first four professional seasons included (in no particular order): Sherman, Davis, Minnesota's Xavier Rhodes, New England's Malcolm Butler and former Carolina and current Washington Josh Norman. Darius Slay (Lions) and Casey Hayward (Chargers) would have been considered if Beckham weren't injured in those games.
I showed Beckham the list and he nodded in agreement. Nobody else came off the top of his head to add.
He doesn't have a clear-cut No. 1 though, in part because some of the best cornerbacks he has faced haven't shadowed him around the field.
"I've been asked this question so many times. It's really hard to answer because it has never been man-to-man," he said. "I can't even give it an answer. I really thought about it. There are a couple guys who are very good, but I never had that matchup one-on-one."
Beckham never had the opportunity to face Darrelle Revis in his prime. Revis missed a 2015 regular-season game against the Giants with a concussion. They did meet in the following preseason for a minute.
Beckham also missed the Giants' game against Peterson and the Arizona Cardinals late last season. That was because he was forced to sit out the final 11 games of the season with a broken ankle.
This Sunday is Beckham's first game since. He didn't play in the preseason. To make life more difficult, it will be against Ramsey and the Jaguars, who had the league's second-ranked defense last season. Even their No. 2 corner, A.J. Bouye, is a Pro Bowl player.
It all makes this week perhaps the toughest on-field challenge of Beckham's career.
Giants safety Landon Collins shares an agent with Ramsey. He knows him well as a person and player, and believes this is in fact Beckham's toughest opponent yet.
"I think so," Collins said. "It's going to be a good matchup."
It's going to involve plenty of chatter. Ramsey is an unabashed trash-talker who called Cincinnati's A.J. Green soft and a punk, until Green finally snapped late in their 2017 matchup.
"Receivers are, like, naturally soft. So sensitive," Ramsey said in a recent ESPN The Magazine story.
Ramsey detailed how he goes out of his way to find dirt on each week's opponent. This week will likely be no different, even though Beckham and Ramsey are friends who hung out earlier this offseason. They've joked about going against each other ever since.
"I'm sure it won't be as friendly as it was over the offseason," Beckham said Wednesday. "We're both very, very competitive. I know that for sure. It's going to be a good game."
Ramsey also praised Beckham while simultaneously criticizing Giants quarterback Eli Manning in a GQ article last month. Ramsey essentially said Manning wasn't that good and was being propped up by his star receiver.
The groundwork on Ramsey began way before this week. Beckham said he has been watching closely ever since the Florida State product came into the league as a first-round pick. He's a fan of the game who watches receivers and cornerbacks closely.
"He's as good as they come," Beckham said.
And now he gets to face him in his first game back since breaking his ankle in Week 5 of last season.