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Late for Work 7/11: CBS Sports: Odell Beckham Jr. Among Non-Quarterbacks Under the Most Pressure This Season

WR Odell Beckham Jr.
WR Odell Beckham Jr.

CBS Sports: Odell Beckham Jr. Among Non-Quarterbacks Under the Most Pressure This Season

Odell Beckham Jr. is one of the most famous players in the NFL, and with his star power comes high expectations.

The three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver signed a one-year deal reportedly worth $15 million this offseason — a figure that far exceeded what pundits projected his market value to be — and is being counted on to play a major role in the Ravens' revamped passing attack in 2023.

Beckham, who has suffered two torn ACL injuries and been out of action since the Super Bowl in February 2022, is among the non-quarterbacks under the most pressure this season, according to CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin.

"Even on a one-year deal, $15M is not cheap for a guy who's started 20 games the last three years, missing extensive time with knee injuries," Benjamin wrote. "Beckham is easily the most accomplished member of a remade WR corps, but his availability could be crucial to Lamar Jackson's growth as a passer inside a new offensive system."

Beckham, 30, said recently that he's on a “slow incline” in his preparation for the season, doing what needs to be done to be ready for Week 1 and "peaking at the right time."

While all eyes will be on Beckham, he won't necessarily have to put up gaudy numbers to have a successful season. The Ravens have plenty of mouths to feed in the passing game, including All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews and wide receivers Rashod Bateman and first-rounder Zay Flowers. As new Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken said, there's only one ball.

Beckham's biggest impact could be in the red zone, an area where the Ravens struggled last season. Beckham had five touchdown catches in eight games with the Los Angeles Rams in 2021 and two more in the postseason.

Ravens Defensive Position Groups That Are Better, Worse or Same As Last Season

Yesterday’s Late for Work included a note on ESPN's Jamison Hensley's analysis on whether each Ravens offensive position group is better, worse, or the same as last season.

The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec also did the "better, worse, or same" exercise. Here are some of his observations on the Ravens' defensive position groups:

Inside linebacker: Better

"[Roquan] Smith and [Patrick] Queen are one of the best inside linebacker tandems in the NFL, and they should be even better this year with Smith having plenty of time now to settle in. With a motivated Queen in a contract year, the addition of [Trenton} Simpson and the healthy return of [Josh]Ross, the Ravens feel good about this group."

Outside linebacker: Worse

"The placement here should probably come with an asterisk because the expectation remains that Baltimore will sign a veteran outside linebacker in the coming days or weeks. There are quite a few available, including [Justin] Houston, Jadeveon Clowney, Robert Quinn and Melvin Ingram. The addition of a veteran who is capable of getting eight to 10 sacks and the potential improvement of [Odafe] Oweh and [David] Ojabo would change the current narrative."

Cornerback: Same

"If you are basing things strictly off pre-knee injury [Marcus] Peters, then, yeah, the Ravens downgraded going from Peters to [Rock] Ya-Sin as the outside starter. However, Peters struggled throughout last season. Now 30, was Peters' form last year strictly a result of the knee injury or a sign of things to come? The uncertainty with that answer prevents me from definitively saying the Ravens got worse here. Ya-Sin is younger, more athletic and has played some good football for stretches of his career. The Ravens also still have some veteran options to upgrade depth at the position."

ESPN Pundit Says Ravens Are As Good As Any AFC Team on Paper

The Ravens are largely regarded by pundits as being a notch below the AFC's big three of the Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals, and Buffalo Bills. However, ESPN analyst and former NFL wide receiver Andrew Hawkins believes the Ravens' roster is as good as anybody's.

"I know the game isn't played on paper, but on paper, they are as good as any AFC team on the market," Hawkins said on "Get Up."

Hawkins is especially high on Jackson, saying that the quarterback will be even better in the Ravens' new offense under Monken than he was in his 2019 MVP season.

"With this new offensive coordinator, they'll be able to cater plays to his abilities, and they gave him weapons on the outside," Hawkins said. "Lamar Jackson is the highest-paid player in the NFL for a reason."

Marlon Humphrey Ranked Among Elite Cornerbacks

Entering his seventh season, Marlon Humphrey remains the Ravens' cornerstone at cornerback. The three-time Pro Bowler was ranked as the No. 6 cornerback in the league in an ESPN poll of NFL executives, coaches and players.

"Humphrey pushed for the top five this year after a Pro Bowl campaign in 2022 and a stronger performance than — for his standards — the previous year," ESPN's Jeremy Fowler wrote. "He ranked No. 2 in our 2021 list and is still considered elite."

An NFL personnel executive said: "If you've been involved in the AFC North, you have a deep appreciation for [Humphrey's] game. Ultimate competitor and can do a little bit of everything."

One Former Raven Named a Hall of Fame Lock, Another Said to Be Likely to Get In

The 33rd Team named retired players who are locks for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and former Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs was on the list.

"He's got more tackles for losses (202) than any player in history and is eighth all-time in sacks (139)," Paul Domowitch said. " … He should go in as soon as he's eligible in 2025.''

If Suggs is elected in 2025, there's a chance the seven-time Pro Bowler could be joined in the class by longtime teammate Marshal Yanda. The eight-time Pro Bowl guard didn't make the list of locks, but he was tabbed as a likely Hall of Famer.

"He should get in fairly quickly," Domowitch said, "but then I felt that way about Alan Faneca, and Faneca inexplicably didn't get a bronze bust until his sixth year as a finalist.''

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