Before becoming the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Jack Del Rio was the defensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers.
And in his first and only season there, in 2002, Del Rio worked with Julius Peppers, the second overall pick of the Panthers in the NFL draft.
Peppers wasted no time making an impact, registering 12.5 sacks for the Panthers' defense, which ranked second overall in the NFL.
"He's a tremendous young man," Del Rio said. "I think he's very gifted but it's more than that. I knew him to be a guy who competed every day. He was a proud athlete."
Peppers has been accused of being an underachiever and giving less than full effort on a consistent basis. But Del Rio said the defensive end's athleticism may work against him.
"He did things naturally," Del Rio said. "Sometimes, he did it so effortlessly that you may assume that he wasn't going hard.
"I thought that was a misnomer of him coming out of college (of North Carolina). I didn't see that."
Peppers is an effortless athlete, Del Rio said.
"When you really study him, some guys have to strain to run, and some guys can run. He's that type of athlete," Del Rio said. "I have a lot of respect for him. The Bears got a lot better, right there."
Keep in mind, Del Rio was a very solid player in his NFL career, earning one Pro Bowl selection as a middle linebacker. He was known for his toughness and relentless style.