BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – It didn’t take Joe Thomas long to see why the Browns used the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft on Myles Garrett.
And it didn’t happen on Wednesday when the 2 faced off for the first time in training camp either.
“I got a chance to watch OTAs and one of the practices he was in he ran around, and it was probably something that nobody else would’ve noticed, but the ball got thrown and he sprinted down the field like 50 yards to chase the ball,” Thomas said. “He was faster than every other person on that field, including the cornerbacks.
“That’s the moment when you’re like, ‘Wow, this guy’s really got something special.'”
Thomas has seen plenty hype surround first-round draft picks for the Browns that eventually turned into busts over his 10 seasons in Cleveland but, he already believes that Garrett is the real deal.
“There’s no reason why he can’t be an elite pass rusher,” Thomas said Thursday.
Thomas sees that Garrett, who racked up 32 1/2 sacks in 3 seasons at Texas A&M, not only is armed with the physical tools but with those that can’t be taught.
“There is one thing you cant teach, and that’s speed,” Thomas said. “As an edge rusher if you have speed, you can make things difficult for a tackle and a quarterback.”
The first 2 snaps on 11 on 11 saw Thomas handle Garrett with ease and tell him, “nice try” after a failed bull rush on one of the snaps.
But later in practice Garret blew around Thomas and made a b-line for quarterback Cody Kessler, hitting him just before Kessler got rid of the football to running back Isaiah Crowell.
“Well Myles is very fast,” Thomas said. “He’s doing an amazing job and I can easily see when he’s out there the reasons why you make him the No. 1 pick.”
Hall of Famer Bruce Smith, who is the NFL’s all-time sacks leader with 200, was on hand for Wednesday’s practice to visit with Garrett. The 2 have become close since they met on draft day in Texas when Smith watched film with him and later handed him his Browns No. 1 jersey and hat following his selection.
Smith thinks Thomas could really help prepare Garrett for his first season and also aid in his development into an elite player which the 10-time Pro Bowler doesn’t mind.
“I think I’ve got enough experience under my belt that I can give him a few tips,” Thomas said. “From my perspective I can let him know what is hard on a tackle, what makes my job difficult when he does certain things.
“It’s been fun because he’s been receptive to coaching. He’s extremely bright and understanding of the points you’re trying to give him and I’m excited to watch him out there.”
Thomas has faced his share of elite pass rushers over his career, which enters it’s 11th season – Dwight Freeney, DeMarcus Ware, Khalil Mack and Terrelle Suggs immediately came to his mind when asked.
Thomas thinks Garrett could join them eventually.
“Certainly Myles has the talent to be in that category,” Thomas said. “But obviously as a rookie he’s got a lot of things to learn He’s got to polish his game before he’s going to be on that level.”