Former Pro-Bowl wide receiver and current NFL Network analyst Steve Smith knows a thing or two about Tyrod Taylor.
After all, he and Taylor shared a locker room in 2014 when they both were members of the Ravens. They weren't just teammates. Taylor and Smith would meet every Tuesday in downtown Baltimore for dinner. It wasn't for any specific football talk or anything. Just to hang out.
So when Smith and Taylor saw each other in Berea on Wednesday after the Browns' morning walkthrough, it was nothing but love. The two talked on the field together, then went their separate ways. Taylor went into the team locker room, and Smith stayed on the field. It was different than their time in Baltimore, but provided a little insight into why Smith continues to speak so highly of Taylor.
"He's professional. He's a leader. He's a hard worker," Smith said of Taylor. "He's a guy that's going to work on his craft. It's evident with how well he did in Buffalo, and it led to him being traded here. You see his impact and who he is, what he does and what he brings to the table. It's cool to watch him."
Smith has seen it firsthand. Although Taylor was a backup to Joe Flacco in Baltimore, he was still a leader to guys on the team. When Smith found out Taylor invited various Browns to southern California on his cost, he wasn't surprised: "That's just Tyrod. He's always working. He's a workaholic. That's what he does. Without his hard work, he would not be at this moment."
When Taylor came out of college after playing at Virginia Tech, he was doubted for multiple things. That's why there were 11 quarterbacks selected ahead of him in the 2011 draft; the Ravens took him in the sixth round with the 180th pick. Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder, Ryan Mallett, Ricky Stanzi and Nathan Enderle — all quarterbacks who were selected ahead of Taylor — aren't in the league anymore.
But Taylor is. And Smith saw something in Taylor during their season together.
"Coming out of college, there was a lot of negative things about him. One of the things he did was he took all of those things and he worked on them each and every day after practice in Baltimore," Smith said. "Working on his accuracy, working on his footwork. Everything you expect out of Tyrod, he did it."
Now, Taylor is tasked with helping rebuild a surging Browns team, revitalized with young talent and a new front office. He enters 2018 on a new roster, with a new quarterbacks coach, offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach. It's a new beginning, not only for Taylor, but for the Browns.
What Smith has seen out of Taylor thus far is staggering. He's excited for his former teammate. He's confident that Taylor can help the Browns take the next step out of the dark.