Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett has steadily improved in each of his first five seasons, and he's reportedly expected to take another step in 2022.
ESPN's Jeremy Fowler polled multiple NFL executives, and Garrett was selected as the player most likely to win NFL Defensive Player of the Year this season over Aaron Donald, T.J. Watt and others.
Garrett earned his third Pro Bowl selection and was named first-team All-Pro for the second straight year in 2021 after posting career highs of 51 total tackles and 16 sacks. The 2017 No. 1 overall pick has established himself as one of the most disruptive defensive players in the league.
One NFC team official told Fowler, "Nobody's Aaron Donald, but [Garrett's] got that quality that he can just physically dominate you. One of the few guys you have to account for at every moment."
Despite his impressive statistics, some believe Garrett hasn't reached his potential and Cleveland's improved roster could help him do that this year.
"Feels like he hasn't had his signature season yet—that might be coming," an NFC executive said. "He's got more talent around him and a better secondary so that could free him up."
The Browns face an uphill battle this season after quarterback Deshaun Watson was suspended for the first 11 games, leaving veteran backup Jacoby Brissett to steer the ship until he returns. While the offense might see some growing pains, Garrett said he plans to make sure the defense is dominant.
"No matter what happens, the defense is going to do what they do," Garrett said in July. "Last time I heard, [the opponent] can't win if they don't score points. ... The offense always needs our best. So it's not going to change whether he's not on the field or he is on the field."
A motivated Garrett will surely benefit the Browns as they try to stay afloat without Watson. Cleveland opens the season on Sunday in a road game against the Carolina Panthers, whose starting quarterback is former Browns star Baker Mayfield.