No surprise at the top of the NFL draft as the Cleveland Browns have made Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft, hoping the former Texas A&M defensive end can lead the team back to the playoffs for just the second time since 1999, when it returned to the NFL.
Garrett did not attend the draft in Philadelphia, instead watching with family and friends in Arlington, Texas.
Since finishing the 2016 season with a 1-15 record, the Browns had discussed taking either Garrett or ex-North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with the No. 1 selection. Cleveland also owns the No. 12 pick in Thursday night’s draft.
Garrett has received widespread acclaim as a potential defensive standout. He left the Aggies with 31 career sacks and 141 tackles. In his final season, he had 15 tackles for a loss and 8.5 sacks while playing through an ankle injury.
\Garrett is 6-foot-4 and 272 pounds, and he ran a 4.64-second 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine. His combination of size, speed, quickness and agility has brought comparisons to Julius Peppers, who has 143.5 sacks in 15 seasons.
Garrett has been criticized for not going all out on every play, but before the draft, Browns vice president of player personnel Andrew Berry attributed that to the large number of plays in which college players are on the field. Up-tempo offenses add plays to games.
Garrett joins a Browns defense coached by Gregg Williams that includes Jamie Collins at linebacker, an improving Danny Shelton and Emmanuel Ogbah on the line, and Joe Haden at cornerback.
The Browns have needed that pass-rusher. Since the franchise returned to Cleveland in 1999, only three Browns players have recorded 10-plus sacks in a season (Jamir Miller, 13.0 in 2001; Paul Kruger, 11.0 in ’14; Kamerion Wimbley, 11.0 in ’06).
That’s the fewest players with 10-plus sacks in a season for one franchise during that span.
But Cleveland also has needed a quarterback. Since 1999, the Browns have utilized 26 different starting QBs, most in the NFL in that span.
Garrett’s selection marks the fifth time in the last 11 years an SEC player went first overall. Prior to Thursday, there were only three defensive players selected No. 1 overall in the past 22 drafts (Jadeveon Clowney, Mario Williams and Courtney Brown).
Of the 10 defensive ends drafted No. 1 overall, five have been named first team All-Pro: Williams, Bruce Smith, Lee Roy Selmon, Too Tall Jones and Bubba Smith.