Steve Wilks loves the Browns personnel. But more than that, he loves the youth of it.
Denzel Ward and Myles Garrett aren’t just returning Pro Bowlers, they’re 21- and 23-year-old returning Pro Bowlers. Wilks singled out them, Jabrill Peppers and Damarious Randall by name during his introductory press conference Thursday. And he has big plans for the Browns’ young defensive stars.
In Garrett, Wilks sees a dominant player, someone who can be an All-Pro next year. The next step? Consistency.
“When you look at a player of his caliber being the first overall draft pick and his talent, it is really about trying to get to that All-Pro status and that consistency week in and week out,” Wilks said. “I think that he has the traits and the ability to be a dominant player at this level, but we are looking for that consistency week in and week out.”
Consistency will also be a key for Ward going forward, though with Ward, Wilks is thinking more of consistent availability. Ward suffered two concussions and a preseason back injury during his first NFL season, and Browns coaches have mentioned fixing Ward’s tackling technique as a way to prevent future injuries. Wilks wants to teach all his players the correct way to tackle, but teaching Ward is obviously an emphasis.
“I believe in being aggressive and setting the tone on the defensive side of the ball,” Wilks said. “But we have to make sure that (Ward) is doing it to where he can make sure he can maintain 16-plus games throughout the year so we have to teach him the right way.”
As for Peppers and Randall, there is no “right way” to implement them into Wilks’ scheme because they both sport wide positional versatility. Wilks called Peppers a player with “linebacker traits and DB skills,” and compared him to Budda Baker, whom Wilks coached in Arizona, and Shaq Thompson, whom he coached in Carolina. Wilks loves Randall’s range and believes he has a quality back-end combination in his secondary. Plus, Randall can play cornerback in a pinch.
As for the rest of the roster, Wilks wouldn’t commit to any major changes but believes the Browns could upgrade at every level of the defense. They have the means to fulfill those upgrades, too, which only adds to Wilks’ ambitions for the Browns’ defense.
“I will say this, we are going to try to get every player we can that is going to be able to help us win a world championship,” Wilks said.