For months now it’s been a foregone conclusion that Texas A&M edge rusher extraordinaire Myles Garrett would be taken in the top five picks of this year’s NFL Draft. Many draft pundits had Garrett, Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen or occasionally North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky going with the top overall pick.
After Garrett’s freakish manhandling of the NFL Scouting Combine on Sunday, there’s little doubt he will be the first name called out by Commissioner Roger Goodell on the first night of the draft. It’s a slam dunk pick for the Cleveland Browns, who have needs at almost every position on both sides of the ball.
Recent draft history should be all the Browns need to look at to know this is their only true option. Going back to 2011, the organization has shown a propensity to trade away their high picks in order to garner future picks or more picks within the same draft. To this point, nearly every one of those trades has failed to work out in the Browns’ favor.
They traded away the chance to take Julio Jones in 2011. A year later they traded up a pick for Trent Richardson. In last year’s draft, they traded away the number two pick, and a chance at potential franchise quarterback, for future picks in this year’s draft. That last decision is almost forgivable for Hue Jackson in his first year at the helm, knowing he needed a complete overhaul of the roster.
That leads us to this year.Cleveland has 5 of the first 65 picks in this draft. Plenty of chances to pick up plug-and-play type athletes. With multiple first and second round picks, they even have the flexibility to make more trades for more picks like they love to do.
But they MUST select Myles Garrett with their first pick. They literally have to. I don’t care if another team offers them all of their picks in next year’s draft, they still need to take Myles Garrett first overall.
This young man is what people refer to as a once in a generation talent. An NFL front office executive told Sports Illustrated’s Michael Silver that Garrett looked “like a job saver.” That is talent you can’t pass up. If Jackson truly wants to overhaul his roster, Garrett is the centerpiece to build around. He doesn’t want to look back in 20 years and know he traded away a shot at a player who has the potential to dominate defensive linemen on a weekly basis.
Jackson and the Browns front office have holes all throughout their roster, and certainly need to do a good job drafting this season to keep the already sunken ship from losing all hope of resurfacing. He should know the organization is impatient. They want results. Myles Garrett is the first step in that direction.
I’m not saying he’ll single-handedley account for an exponential win increase from the day he steps on the field. But if they can build a defense around Garrett, linebacker Jamie Collins, 2016 draft pick Emmanuel Ogbah who had 6 sacks last year, and Joe Haden, life will be much easier for Jackson and company. The whole Browns defense only accounted for 26 sacks a year ago. No one would be surprised if Garrett came in and put up half as many by himself as a rookie.
His versatility should also have the Browns itching to begin contract negotiations with the former Aggie as soon as possible. His pass rushing skills are elite, we all know this. But watching him leap 41 inches and run a 4.6-second 40-yard dash at the combine revealed his potential to excel in coverage on third downs.
The Browns would be able to send him as a pass rusher on early downs and put him on a tight end or spying a running back on third downs and not think twice about it.
Myles Garrett is, for all intents and purposes, the closest thing to a sure thing on the defensive side of the ball this league has seen in over a decade. He’s got higher upside than any recent top selections on defense. Draft experts are having a tough time drawing comparisons to him because the combination of his height, weight, speed and quickness is something the league hasn’t seen in quite some time, if ever.
The Cleveland Browns can not pass this opportunity up. Take Garrett at number one, then trade all your other picks away if you want, I don’t care. Just draft the best player your organization has had fall in your lap in years. Don’t let him get away. Don’t let another team try to give you an offer you can’t refuse.
Whatever you do, don’t do what you would do in any other year. Don’t do what has made you the laughing stock of the league. Not drafting Myles Garrett would be such a Browns move. Don’t make another Browns move, make the right move.