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Browns rookies 'real excited' to learn from new DE Za'Darius Smith

DE Isaiah McGuire and DT Siaki Ika were wrapping up their first day of minicamp Friday when they learned that a Pro Bowler was becoming their teammate


Browns rookies were barely a day into settling into their new NFL home Friday when major news broke about a huge acquisition to the defense.

Three-time Pro Bowl DE Za’Darius Smith was becoming their teammate. Word began to spread on social media that evening as rookies were wrapping up their first day of minicamp, and all of them were pleased to see their new team make a massive addition to their defensive line.

"I was in my hotel room, actually watching film and going over the playbook," fourth-round rookie DE Isaiah McGuire said. "Seeing that and sending it to my family, and then us talking about what a great opportunity it is for me as a young player to add that presence to the room and just overall and continuing to improve our pass rush."

Check out photos over the years of the Browns' new Pro Bowl edge rusher, Za'Darius Smith

Smith is one of five players in the NFL who has totaled double-digit sacks in three of the last four seasons and undoubtedly upgrades a defensive line that will feature several new players this season.

He and new DT Dalvin Tomlinson were two of the biggest moves the Browns completed this offseason in their quest to build a bully up front. That task will be spearheaded by new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who's been successful in building top-tier defensive lines in his three decades in the NFL.

Smith, Pro Bowler last year, should be a perfect fit for his schemes — and a resource for the other young pass rushers the Browns are looking to develop.

"Me being a rookie coming in, having the opportunity to learn from a great vet such as Za'Darius, as well as the other people in the room, is truly an honor and a blessing," McGuire said. "I'm excited to learn from those people, pick their brains and just improve overall."

Check out action of all the Browns rookies from the practice fields at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus for rookie minicamp.

Third-round rookie DT Siaki Ika views Smith as an example that a draft round is only a number in a player's profile.

Smith was a fourth-round pick by the Ravens in 2015. His Pro Bowl success wasn't immediate, either, and he didn't become one of the league's top edge rushers until he joined the Packers in 2019.

Patience is often required for mid-round picks to leave their mark in the NFL, but Ika hopes that having Smith in his room will accelerate his growth in Cleveland.

"It gets me excited, real excited," he said. "(Excited) for what I want for myself in the future, so seeing someone like that and being able to learn from someone like that, really exciting."

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