Former No. 1 overall pick Bruce Smith (right) presents a Cleveland Browns jersey to Myles Garrett while his mother Audrey (left) and father Lawrence look on at the NFL Players Association’s Myles Garrett Draft Day party at Terra Verde on Thursday, April 27, 2017, in Arlington, Texas. (Brandon Wade/AP Images for NFLPA)
The Cleveland Browns kicked off a busy 2017 NFL Draft weekend by selecting Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett first overall on April 27. Garrett heads to Cleveland as the top-rated prospect in a deep class of talented players; he had been a clear-cut favorite to go first overall after a standout pair of seasons as a freshman and sophomore. But as draft day drew closer, questions arose whether Garrett would in fact go first as analysts sought minor flaws in his game. Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk debate whether or not Garrett was the right choice as the No. 1 pick.
Green: From the start, I was never sold on Garrett being the No. 1 pick. I like him as a player, but to go first overall in my book you need to have the ability to develop into a franchise cornerstone, and I don’t see that from him. His size and measurables went a long way toward making him the consensus top pick. But when you check the tape, where was the dominance? I didn’t see any games where he flat-out took over and wreaked havoc.
Riley: Listed at 6 feet 5 inches and weighing more than 260 pounds, Garrett’s frame and body type was obviously a defining factor for him to go first. But scouts also consider a player’s college production and project how it will translate into the NFL. Cleveland will use Garrett as an outside linebacker in their defensive scheme, a spot he should thrive in as a professional. Rarely do the most dominant college players get selected first overall—it’s all about projections and how players will develop going forward. No one received a better grade in that area than Garrett.
Green: I’ve never been a fan of projections and future predictions, as they can be misleading. Past production matters to me more than the scouts, apparently. When you look at Garrett’s tape, you’re hard-pressed to find those standout games that are defining of top selections from prior seasons. Also, keep in mind we’re talking about the Cleveland Browns and the ridiculous quarterback carousel they’ve endured over the last two decades. Drafting any player who isn’t a quarterback should be considered a questionable call for them. I like Garrett and his traits, but I just don’t think this was the year for him to go No. 1.
Riley: Cleveland took the best player available, and it’s hard to fault them for that. Picking a quarterback just to compensate for all their past failures has been a recipe for disaster for the Browns. I’m happy they’ve wised up over the last few years and have a more strategic game plan to attack the draft. The Browns play in a conference with Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Derek Carr and Joe Flacco, so securing a pass rusher made complete sense if they want to compete with those upper-echelon teams. Garrett has the size, speed and weight to be an impact player right out of the gates for Cleveland. They made the right call in tabbing him as No. 1.