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Late for Work 4/13: Odell Beckham Jr. Lauded As Great Teammate, Hard Worker

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) celebrates his touchdown catch against the Arizona Cardinals with wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (3) during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz.

Odell Beckham Jr. Lauded As Great Teammate, Hard Worker

While there's no denying Odell Beckham Jr. is a superstar with a big personality, those who know him well are effusive in their praise of the newest member of the Ravens for being a great teammate with a strong work ethic.

"His teammates are going to love him first of all," NFL Network analyst Marc Ross, who was an executive with the New York Giants during Beckham's time there, said on “Glenn Clark Radio.” "He is going to work. The guy is maniacal about working out and perfecting his craft, so those are the things you're definitely going to get. … Just as far as a player and a teammate and a worker, he's top notch with all that."

Nelson Stewart, Beckham's high school coach, told The Baltimore Sun’s Brian Wacker that Beckham "is the hardest worker I've ever been around" and not the diva he's perceived to be.

"He wasn't a spotlight seeker [growing up]," said Stewart, who remains close with Beckham and talks regularly with him. "In high school, he didn't like doing interviews. He was so young [when he became a star in the NFL]; he was in his early 20s and didn't know how to navigate it. Every moment, the cameras were on him. Passion can get viewed one way, but he's a guy who wants to win and he's passionate about it. It matters so much to him."

Stewart said that Beckham, now a 30-year-old father, has matured.

"When he came into the league, everything went right, then he got hurt and battled adversity," Stewart said. "It hardened him, having that much success and then going to Cleveland and being hurt [and that not working out] and then tasting [success] again with the Rams. He's shown an ability to get off the mat. He's more mature now, has life perspective."

Stewart added that he is "thrilled" that Beckham landed with the Ravens because they're "a great organization," but also because of Beckham's relationship with Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken, who was the Browns offensive coordinator during Beckham's stint in Cleveland.

"It was all positive," Stewart said. "When [Monken] came in to meet with me [after going to Georgia], he said [Beckham] was hurt there. There was a lot of weight on him [but] he had to battle injuries. He was battling, but he was getting pulled in a thousand different directions. He just wanted to win."

The Ravens will introduce Beckham at a press conference today at 1 p.m. ET.

Ravens Have History of Drafting Quality Cornerbacks in First Round

It's widely believed the Ravens will take either a wide receiver or cornerback when they're on the clock with the 22nd-overall pick in the draft. If it's the latter, history suggests they won't miss on the pick.

As The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec noted, the Ravens have drafted four cornerbacks in the first round — Duane Starks (1998), Chris McAlister (1999), Jimmy Smith (2011), and Marlon Humphrey (2017) — and "they've yet to regret it."

"The cornerback versus wide receiver debate will persist right up to Baltimore making its first pick in the draft," Zrebiec wrote. "What is inarguable is that barring the addition of a high-quality veteran in the coming weeks, the Ravens have to come out of this draft with a candidate to start opposite Humphrey, whether that's in the first round or with one of their later picks."

The classes at both positions are considered deep, but NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said the cornerback class is especially strong.

"It's a better corner group than the receiver group," Jeremiah said. "This year when I look at it, I've got 20 corners with top-three-round grades, which is a big number. I think it's a really good group of corners."

The Ideal Top Two Picks for the Ravens draft analyst Chad Reuter identified the ideal top two picks for each team. For the Ravens, it was — surprise! — a wide receiver and cornerback.

Reuter had Baltimore selecting USC wide receiver Jordan Addison in the first round at No. 22, and Stanford cornerback Kyu Blu Kelly in the third round at No. 86.

"Though the Ravens just signed Odell Beckham Jr., Addison would be an excellent value pick at No. 22, slicing open zones with smooth movement and quickness in his routes. They don't have a second-round pick because of the Roquan Smith trade but need to find a potential starting outside corner like Kelly in the third," Reuter wrote.

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