Even before Odell Beckham Jr. agreed to be a Raven, new Ravens Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken was on board.
With buzz about the Ravens and Beckham circling for months, Monken was asked for his take on the superstar wide receiver during his introductory press conference in Baltimore. Monken coached Beckham in 2019, as the Cleveland Browns' offensive coordinator.
"I really like Odell. Odell is super athletic, twitchy. [He] really likes football. I really did [like him]," Monken said. "I think he's tremendously skilled, and I like his personality. He likes to compete."
Monken said "it didn't work out" the year he was with Beckham, but it was the most recent time Beckham had a 1,000-yard season, as he caught 74 passes for 1,035 yards and four touchdowns. Beckham was targeted 133 times, the 15th-most in the league.
One storyline in Cleveland late that season was that Beckham wasn't involved enough in the Browns' offense, particularly in the red zone. Monken said he wanted to get the star wideout more action.
Looking back on that four years later, Monken said Beckham is "like every skill player."
"I don't know why everybody gets pissed off – like, he wants the ball. Well, really? I don't know where I've been where a great player didn't want the ball," Monken said. "I don't know where a basketball player didn't want shots or a baseball player didn't want to get at-bats. That's what they want; they want opportunities to showcase their ability. I think it's awesome."
In Baltimore, Beckham has a chance for a lot of targets in Monken's new scheme, which surely will air the ball out more than the heavy ground approach deployed by Greg Roman. Beckham can alleviate some of the pressure and targets on tight end Mark Andrews and complement another extremely talented wide receiver in Rashod Bateman. The Ravens suddenly have the potential for a pick-your-poison passing attack.
Beckham's personality should also be a good fit in Baltimore, as he and Lamar Jackson seem to already have a good relationship and are two of the biggest superstars in the league. Bateman said that when he was younger, one receiver he was drawn to was Beckham, for his flashiness on and off the field.
With his big-time production and jaw-dropping acrobatic catches, Beckham became an immediate celebrity in the NFL. He topped 1,300 receiving yards and scored at least 10 touchdowns in his first three seasons with the New York Giants, earning a Pro Bowl trip each year.
With that has come increased scrutiny over the entirety of his career, and Monken saw some of that in Cleveland.
"It's tough being a face. Does that make sense?" Monken said. "Like NBA [players] deal with it all the time, but there are very few NFL players, outside of the quarterback, that they really know their face; that they're a market. And he's that way, and I think that makes it hard at times. When you're under the microscope like he is, it really is hard."
At age 30 and coming off a lost 2022 season spent rehabbing a torn ACL, Beckham will have a chance in Baltimore to reestablish himself as one of the NFL's top receivers and superstars. If he can help lead the Ravens to the Super Bowl, he will have done just that. Monken isn't going to bet against him.
"I liked Odell a lot," Monken said in conclusion. "I liked his skillset, liked his work ethic. He fought through an injury. Tremendous."