PHILADELPHIA — The pick is in. The Cleveland Browns have owned the first selection in the 2017 NFL draft since Jan. 3, and the Browns made the pick everyone assumed they would make 114 days ago.
Despite a few rumors that the Browns might go against conventional wisdom and select a quarterback at the top, they went with the best defensive prospect this year — and perhaps in a few years. The Texas A&M pass rusher is that good. And he better be.
Garrett didn’t attend the draft here, but held his own party in Arlington, Texas, where he grew up.
The scene around Myles Garrett here in Arlington: pic.twitter.com/7TJq03VqtF
— Brent Zwerneman (@BrentZwerneman) April 28, 2017
Myles Garrett here in Arlington with his high school coach at Arlington Martin Bob Wager: pic.twitter.com/VvnkFZo6eF
— Brent Zwerneman (@BrentZwerneman) April 27, 2017
The Browns were awful defensively last season. They were not a whole lot better statistically after trading for linebacker Jamie Collins, but a Garrett-Collins duo puts two freaky athletes in the hands of new coordinator Gregg Williams, a man who likes to do freaky things on defense.
The Browns could be fun on that side of the ball. There’s a whole lot more to do, for sure, but they now have some pass-rush juice and a player in Garrett that offenses have to contend with. The Browns haven’t had much of that — for all the talk in recent years about the Browns’ lack of a functional quarterback, the defense hasn’t been much better.
But passing on a quarterback — for the moment — puts a little extra pressure on Garrett and the team. It’s the same pressure the Houston Texans faced in 2014 when they needed a quarterback and took Jadeveon Clowney first overall. It was the right call then. And we feel Garrett is the right call now.
The Browns are armed to the hilt with draft picks, this year and next, and they can maneuver any way they want to land the help they need at quarterback. For now, the sad-sack Browns simply needed a safe pick at No. 1, a potential cornerstone to finally help them turn the corner. They couldn’t get this wrong.
Garrett gives the Browns what they’ve been lacking for a long time: a potential superstar who gives the franchise hope of better days ahead.
There is no other player in this draft who can do what Garrett can do, and there might not be for a few years. He’s not perfect, but his upside is sky-high. All of a sudden, the Browns’ few other defensive pieces of note — Chris Kirksey, Danny Shelton and maybe Emmanuel Ogbah — should be able to play more freely. If Garrett is not a 12-sack player in Year 1, no need for panic; after all, Clowney struggled early. Wouldn’t you want him now?
Credit the Browns for making the correct pick to start Thursday’s draft. Beyond taking Garrett, all bets are off. But they’re off to a good start.
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More NFL draft coverage from Yahoo Sports:
• Dan Wetzel: How Roger Goodell saved the NFL draft
• NFL draft profile: Garrett the clear-cut top prospect
• How NFL prospects Butt and Lamp used names to cash in
• Most Hall of Famers are drafted with what pick?