ORLANDO, FL — Now that the 2017 NFL Draft is in the books and that defensive end Myles Garrett has been selected as the top overall pick, the next question is; can he save the Cleveland Browns?
It’s no secret that Cleveland had issues generating pressure on opposing quarterbacks, sacking them or stopping the run, the selection of the former Texas A&M pass rusher—opposite 2016 second-round pick in Emmanuel Ogbah—is widely expected to bolster what was universally regarded as an otherwise anemic pass rush.
Newly hired defensive coordinator Gregg Williams—long considered to be one of the most aggressive and gambling coordinators in the game—is projected to deploy Garrett opposite Ogbah and in between defensive tackles Danny Shelton and a rotation of rookies in Larry Ogunjobi and sixth-round steal Caleb Brantley.
The key to it all—as well as Cleveland’s winning and sack-hungry hopes—rests on the near 6’5 270-pound muscular shoulders of Garrett.
Thankfully, Cleveland made the smart decision for once in tabbing what many considered to be the top overall player in the draft in Garrett over quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, and letting the best players fall to them.
What many fail to see is that Cleveland manipulated other teams in the top of the draft in Chicago and San Francisco into opening up their draft board by taking Trubisky off the board at No.2
Once that was done and the Texans traded up to No.12 for Deshaun Watson, Cleveland was free to focus on building the lines—as I’ve stated since last November—in Garrett, strong safety Jabrill Peppers at No.25 and replacing 32-year-old Gary Barnidge with David Njoku.
In a division that features two Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks in Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco, generating any form of pass rush to disrupt—or sacking—them is paramount only next to stopping the run.
If Garrett lives up to his Jadaveon Clowney-esque freakish athletic potential, then Garrett may become one of the franchise cornerstones that Cleveland has been looking for since coming back into the NFL in 1999.
Could Myles Garrett—and not a (insert name of QB) be the savior of the Browns, instead of the likes of Trubisky, Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, etc?
Only time will tell.
They say that offense wins games and defense wins championships, and while Cleveland is a long way to both, landing a franchise-defining player such as Garrett certainly puts them on the right path towards achieving them sooner rather than later.