CLEVELAND — Editor's note: the video in the player above is from a previous story.
One year ago, Myles Garrett said that he wanted to end the debate over who the NFL's top defensive player is.
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When it comes to edge rushers, it appears the Cleveland Browns star has done just that.
On Monday, ESPN's Jeremy Fowler released the first edition of his annual survey in which he asks league executives, coaches, scouts and players for their input on the league's top players at each position. And with edge defenders being first, it didn't take long to find Garrett, who ranked No. 1 at the position among those surveyed.
"Asking general managers which pass-rusher around which they'd build a defense, most said Garrett. Evaluators weren't as sold before last season, when they felt Garrett underachieved and would get washed out by a good blocking scheme or seasoned left tackle (and he was also coming off a six-game suspension.) No longer," wrote Fowler.
"Absolutely made a massive jump last year," a veteran AFC defensive coach told Fowler. "From a physical standpoint setting the edge and as a pass-rusher he's just gifted. He put it all together. He was so difficult to deal with, snap in and snap out."
Garrett's first-place ranking marks a notable rise from a year ago, in which he ranked fifth in Fowler's survey. Nevertheless, the Browns opted to make the No. 1 pick of the 2017 NFL Draft the highest-paid non-quarterback in the sport by signing him to a five-year, $125 million extension last offseason.
"I don’t want to be the same player I was last year; I want to be better in all aspects,‘' Garrett said after signing his new contract last summer. "Even on [last season's] trajectory, I was known to be in the [Defensive] Player of the Year conversation. So I don't want to make it a conversation anymore. This next year, I want to ball out and win that award, but I want to take my team to the playoffs and even higher than that."
While Garrett didn't ultimately win the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year award, it would be tough to argue he didn't meet his own lofty expectations. Appearing in 14 games, the Texas A&M product tallied 12 sacks and four forced fumbles en route to being named first-team All-Pro while helping lead the Browns to their first playoff appearance since the 2002 season.