Gregg Williams saw a player certainly capable of lining up with the first-team defense, but it wasn't until he heard from some of Myles Garrett's teammates when he knew the time was right.
Garrett, the Browns' No. 1 overall pick, started at the bottom of the depth chart like every other rookie on Cleveland's 90-man roster. He quickly rose from the third team to the second group during the early parts of camp, but it wasn't until Cleveland's defensive coordinator met with some of the key members of his defense that he knew Garrett was ready and deserving of the ultimate promotion.
"The veteran players came to me and said, 'hey, do you know we are better when he is in there?'" Williams said Tuesday after the Browns' morning walk-through. "Really? Well, now you are going to own him. I don't have to force him down your throat. You are going to own him. They just fit in together."
Garrett has taken it from there, as he continues to make plays on the practice field against the first-team offense after an impressive preseason debut. Garrett made multiple stops in the backfield and brought heavy pressure on a New Orleans third down that ended with an incompletion.
The lofty expectations Williams had for Garrett when the Browns made him the No. 1 pick haven't changed a bit.
"One of the things we do is when those guys come in the door, they are dead last on the depth chart," Williams said. "How do you handle that? How do you handle the locker room? How do you handle the meeting room? How do you handle the field? How do you handle the walkthroughs? How do you handle being humble? How do you handle being respectful? He is a really good young man and a pretty good player, too.
"I have never had a chance to draft the first overall pick ever, but I have had some pretty high draft picks. He is the one that has jumped out and fit in faster than any of the other ones, and I have had some really, really good ones."
One of Garrett's biggest strengths has been his ability to "get off" the line of scrimmage at the pace Williams prefers. It's something Garrett has emphasized to himself ever since he first met with Hall of Fame pass rusher Bruce Smith, who told him he was slow off the ball.
Williams wants it to rub off on Garrett's teammates, and it has, but the emphasis this week has centered on avoiding the five offsides/improper alignment penalties Cleveland had against the Saints.
"I thought he was very disruptive on the things that we ask him to do in the pass game," Williams said. "I can tell you this, you go back and watch the film, they were pointing to where he was. The Saints knew where he was."