With Myles Garrett, the Browns Got the Best Player in the Draft
The legendary public television painter Bob Ross taught us all that we have the potential to make beautiful things, no matter how experienced at something we each are. Through his PBS show, “The Joy of Painting”, he helped us to see the humor and happiness in everything around us. In fact, perhaps his most famous quote is a philosophy that has stuck with me to this day: “We don’t make mistakes; we just have happy accidents.”
The Cleveland Browns wouldn’t call many of their historical draft accidents “happy”. Still, holding the first overall pick in 2017, they have certainly lucked into a happy chance to draft a generational talent: Texas A&M edge rusher Myles Garrett, the best player in the nation.
In a year where consensus seems to be as tough to find as a franchise player, there are some who still believe that is not the most talented player this year -- and some that feel like he isn’t even worthy of being the top player in the NFL Draft.
But I -- and everything Garrett has proven thus far -- disagree.
Garrett has put together a ridiculous college career, one he capped off with a total 47.0 stuffs and 31.0 sacks in 34 career games. No, this year’s top talent edge rusher doesn’t have the ridiculous highlight reel that 2014’s Jadeveon Clowney did, but he does have production out the wazoo, and measurables to match.
Pictured below is Garrett’s MockDraftable.com spider-chart, showing Garrett’s NFL Combine measurements and speeds in their percentiles versus other players at his position (99th percentile is better than 99 percent of the others at that position). Since we don’t know if he’ll be a hand-down defensive end (green chart) or stand-up outside linebacker (blue chart) yet, I’ve included the spider-charts for each.
No matter where he lines up, Garrett is a physically devastating force that will give offenses fits in the NFL. With prototypical edge rusher size at 6’4”, 272 pounds, and with enormous 35 ¼-inch arms, Garrett will be able to toss around opposing linemen like rag dolls. In fact, he physically compares to some of the best players of the last 20 years: MockDraftable pegs him closest to Justin Houston, Danielle Hunter, Willie Young, and Allen Bailey among edge rushers.
His 4.64 40-yard dash is possibly the weakest part of his game, and that kind of straight-line speed at his weight is still very, very good. With the explosiveness he demonstrated by jumping 127 inches long and 41 inches high at the Combine, no one is going to question his first step -- especially with the kind of tape he put down the past three years.
The big question about Garrett that scouts have is his effort, however: almost every scouting report has Garrett taking plays off, purportedly to preserve his health. But with how fast the college game is played and how many plays per game the average NCAA team runs, I’m not shocked that Garrett slows himself down somewhat to keep his motor running for 60 minutes.
What’s actually shocking is that while you sometimes see Garrett make business decisions on college tape, the statistics show he dials his effort up in the games that matter. The table below shows his per-game average production (thanks to Sports Reference) between games against ranked and non-ranked opponents.
Ding him all you want for catching his breath here and there; other than sack production -- which is to be expected against higher-caliber left tackles -- Garrett is as good or better against ranked opponents as he is against everyone else. In fact, he is one of just 12 players since 2000 to post at least 30 sacks and 45 stuffs in his college career, and his per-game sack and stuff rates are better than Von Miller, Larry English, Trent Murphy, Ryan Kerrigan, and Hau'oli Kikaha -- he was bested by only Vic Beasley in both categories.
Myles Garrett checks all the boxes: he’s a physical marvel, he has a fire to compete and puts up production, and he’s intelligent and has a good sense of humor. That, to me, is everything a team wants and more in a first overall pick.
This was exactly the right way to go for the Browns, who needed a slam dunk here at the opener of the Draft. Since 2000, only three edge rushers prior to this year have been selected first overall: Clowney in 2014, Mario Williams in 2006, and Courtney Brown in 2000 (ironically, by these same Browns). Cleveland came in 27th in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play this past year, and an historically bad 32nd in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play.
By bringing in Garrett, the Browns get themselves a premier pass-rush push to help aid an ailing secondary and a speed rusher to complement the power of Emmanuel Ogbah on the other side of the line. The Browns are converting to a 4-3 defense this season under former Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who loves blitz-heavy schemes. This means Garrett gets to keep his hand in the dirt and rush off the right defensive end spot, against left tackles.
The Browns still need a franchise quarterback, but they know that if you can't join a pass-happy NFL, you should try to beat one instead. By bolstering their pass rush, they do just that and continue to return this franchise to the smash mouth "Dawg Pound" era of play. This was always the right pick, and Cleveland kept themselves from overthinking it.