The Cleveland Browns bought in Za'Darius Smith to improve their pass rush. Last season he was able to rack up 10 sacks for the Minnesota Vikings. Add Myles Garrett's 16 sacks and the Browns' new edge duo would have ranked as one of the top tandems in the league.
So can Garrett and Smith be the best edge combo in the NFL?
While most Browns fans know how good Garrett is, maybe there are some things that will even surprise us. He's one of two edge rushers to grade out over 90 per PFF in the last two years. Only eight players have done this the over past two years.
He has also logged 16 sacks in the last two seasons, placing him among the top ten in that category in both years. Garrett has 90 pressures, 28 hurries, 26 quarterback knockdowns, 35 tackles for loss, and 59 QB hits over the same two seasons, per Pro Football Reference.
At just age 27 years of age, he's already the Browns' all-time sack leader with 74.5 in just 84 games. Those 74.5 sacks also give him the eighth-highest total in NFL history through six seasons. Based on the numbers Myles Garrett can certainly make the case that he is the best edge in the NFL.
Trevor Sikkema sure thinks soL
Garrett is still in his prime, so the expectations are another stellar season from the all-pro is on the way. Might we see an even better, if possible, No. 95 next season under Jim Schwartz?
Smith is where some questions may arise in the best duo conversation. He has dealt with injuries over the past two seasons. He missed all but one game in 2021, and a knee contusion in 2022 slowed him down over the past seven games of the season. Can he stay healthy? Does he still have the ability to dominate games?
The healthy question is always a wait-and-see for any player, especially ones that have had issues in recent seasons. That's really out of anyone's control.
There's no doubt from anyone involved that Smith has looked healthy in camp. All you need to do is hit up Brown's Twitter and see Smith firing off the line with lightning speed next to Garrett. While Smith's age (30) and recent injury history present some concerns, what he has done in his last 32 games is impressive.
Over that span, Smith has totaled 22.5 sacks, 27 tackles for loss, 47 quarterback hits, 23 hurries, 26 QB knockdowns, and 76 pressures. Keep in mind, he played seven of these games on a bad knee and only totaled half a sack in that time.
There were rumblings early last season of a Defensive Player of the Year trophy added to his accolades. Through seven games, Smith already had 8.5 sacks and a Defensive Player of the Month award on his resume. If he's healthy all year, who knows what kind of season 2022 could have been. The trade may have never happened and he definitely would have cost more money.
Stack up what Smith has done and the numbers are not that far off from putting him in the top few edge rushers in the league. Trevor Sikkema strikes again as he has Smith as the 10th-best in the NFL on the same list that had Garrett at the top.
If he's right, then the Browns should have the best rush tandem in the NFL in 2023. In today's NFL that usually equates to success on that side of the ball.