It should probably be taken as a given that it’s difficult to fully cover all the interesting stories that come out of the rest of the division while focusing on just one aspect a day, but here is one that we missed from about a week ago, and it pertains to what happened just before the Cleveland Browns’ introductory press conference for their three first-round draft picks.
The Browns used the first-overall selection on near-consensus best player Myles Garrett, an outside linebacker, before trading their 12th-overall pick down to 25, using it on safety Jabrill Peppers. They traded back into the first round at 29 to select tight end David Njoku, but this is about the defenders.
Evidently, just before the press conference, new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams had some words of wisdom for his young chess pieces, a bit of tough, fatherly love, but also advice from a boss.
Williams told the two that he “wanted two players out of this draft, and you are my guys. It may not look like it, but I’m happy to see you”. Sounds like a nice start, but it gets more blunt and honest from there.
“Now”, he continued, “if you would like to avoid getting off to a very bad start with me, we need to make some things clear. First, do not go down there and, when you talk to the media, write checks your ass can’t cash”.
Garrett in particular has already been on record multiple times for making some boisterous statements, including his plans for Ben Roethlisberger and “their left tackle” when the Browns play the Pittsburgh Steelers on opening day.
“You are here to work and help your teammates, and you will talk with your play”, Williams told Garrett and Peppers. “When you come back here [for rookie minicamp], you will get to work. I look forward to being your father, now and for the rest of your life”.
Williams is probably best-known for his time with the Saints, during which he was embroiled in a scandal that became known as Bountygate. He was suspended from the league until the suspension was lifted a year later, and he spent the past three seasons as the defensive coordinator for the Rams.
He is in his first season with the Browns, replacing Ray Horton, who had previously served a term as defensive coordinator in Cleveland as well. The team is in a virtual full rebuilding mode, so whoever is in charge will have his hands full.
No doubt, however, the additions of Garrett and Peppers are significant ones that will add to some of the young talent that is already on the roster for Cleveland, including nose tackle Danny Shelton, defensive ends Xavier Cooper and Carl Nassib, and outside linebackers Emmanuel Ogbah and Nate Orchard.
There is still a ways to go yet, but perhaps they’re getting there. I don’t know if Williams is the one to take the defense to the level it needs to reach, but at least it doesn’t sound like he’s going to tolerate much nonsense.