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Jadeveon Clowney, Myles Garrett set to create 'favorable matchups'

The Browns believe Clowney and Garrett are capable of creating multiple mismatches across the entire line of scrimmage

Jadeveon Clowney didn't need to make much of an introduction to Myles Garrett last week when the duo met on a field donning a Browns helmet and jersey for the first time this offseason.

Clowney, who signed with the Browns via free agency in April, already knew plenty about Garrett, and vice versa. The two players are the only defensive ends to be drafted first overall in the past decade — Clowney received that label in 2014 with the Texans, and Garrett went to Cleveland at that spot in 2017.

Both players have earned multiple Pro Bowl nods for terrorizing quarterbacks throughout their careers, and now they hope to form one of the scariest defensive line duos in the NFL in 2021.

"I haven't run into too many guys like (Garrett) in the National Football League yet," Clowney said last week during minicamp. "Took me eight years to get here and find another one like that on defense. It's great. I just know he's going to go out there and do his thing."

Check out exclusive photos of minicamp

Clowney's words are certainly a compliment to Garrett, but it's worth noting that Clowney has played with an All-Pro edge rusher before.

His name is J.J. Watt, who teamed up with Clowney with the Texans from 2014-2018. When both were healthy, the Texans' defensive line was one of the scariest in the NFL, and Clowney was at his best. He recorded 29 sacks across 62 games in his first five years in Houston and 18.5 in his final two seasons, the first of which included only five games with Watt before Watt suffered a season-ending injury.

Why does this matter? Well, if Clowney believes Garrett is equally, or perhaps even more talented than Watt, then the past suggests both players could be in for a big year.

One of those players figures to be double-teamed on every passing play. That likely leaves just one blocker available for the man on the other side.

And that's a look neither player has seen much of over their careers.

"(Opponents) are going to make a choice of who they're going to chip and where they're going to slide the protection to," defensive coordinator Joe Woods said. "It will be a great complement, and we will also be able to move those guys around just to try to create some favorable matchups for ourselves."

The "possibilities" Woods is referring to include positioning either Garrett and Clowney up in the interior, and not only on the outside.

There's a few reasons why that could be beneficial on certain plays. With another talented player and experienced NFL starter in Takkarist McKinley also in the defensive end room, either Clowney or Garrett would be a fit for interior snaps if the Browns need all three ends on the field. Interior looks for Clowney or Garrett would also make sense if an opponent has a weakness at guard.

Both players will be content no matter where they line up, of course, as long as it means the defensive line has a solid chance of getting to the quarterback.

"It's a lot different," Clowney said about playing inside. "Everything happens quicker down there. You have to get into your rush a lot quicker with everything happening, but you're closer to the quarterback so it's a win/lose. Everything happens fast, but you're going against a lot of non-athletic guys inside so the matchups are there, and you just take advantage of your matchups.

"I feel like I can play inside or outside. I don't mind."

The mixing and matching will come into clearer focus come training camp, but one thing has been certain since news broke that Clowney was coming to Cleveland: The Browns are going to pose problems for opposing offensive lines when the duo's on the field.

Garrett knows it. Clowney knows it. If an opponent isn't prepared, they'll know it soon, too.