Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett reads and writes poetry. He loves dinosaurs and wants to study them. He’s a huge fan of Journey, the 1970s and ’80s arena rock band recently inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
He’s also a physical freak, a fearsome pass rusher and the likely No. 1 draft pick of the Browns on Thursday night.
Dubbed “the most interesting man in the draft” by ESPN, Garrett has set a higher goal for his NFL career.
“I want to be the greatest. The greatest that ever played, regardless of position or era,” he told ESPN The Magazine. “They say that’s Jerry Rice. If his total greatness is considered the best of all time, I want to exceed that.”
Aggies defensive ends coach Terry Price described Garrett as “reserved” and “calm” off the field but said he knows how to flip the switch when necessary and “change to another guy” between the lines. He said the bold proclamation wasn’t out of character.
“He’s always said that,” Price told The Chronicle-Telegram in a phone interview Sunday. “He said that since he’s been here. He wanted to be the best and believes he will be the best.
“He works hard. The words he says match his work ethic. Every year he sets goals and wants to break them.”
Garrett is almost unanimously considered by analysts the best player in the draft. The Browns appreciate him -- “We’d be proud to have him,” executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said last week -- but are reportedly deciding whether to go with North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky instead at No. 1. They could also try to land both, likely with a trade back into the top five for Trubisky.
Price said the choice at No. 1 is easy: Take Garrett.
“It’s the smart thing to do if you want to have a dominant rush guy, a double-digit sack guy for a long, long time,” he said. “No question they should. It’s a no-brainer to me.”
Garrett was a three-time All-Southeastern Conference selection and two-time All-American, including by unanimous vote in 2016. He set an SEC freshman record with 11.5 sacks in 2014, added 12.5 as a sophomore and 8.5 last year. He totaled 145 tackles, 48.5 tackles for loss, 32.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles.
The ease at which he dipped a shoulder and turned the corner to sack the quarterback was fun to watch. The ability to beat a double team and smash the ball carrier in the backfield was impressive.
Then he went to Indianapolis for the scouting combine and sent the scouts’ jaws crashing to the floor once again.
Garrett measured 6-foot-4½ and 272 pounds. He bench pressed 225 33 times with 35¼-inch arms. He vertical jumped 41 inches and ran a 4.64-second 40-yard dash.
“He’s a freak of nature,” former Texas A&M offensive coordinator Jake Spavital told The Chronicle. “When teams are forced to throw, it’s over. When he’s one-on-one with a tackle, good luck to you. He’s going to win that one.
“He’s an awesome kid. He’s talented. You couldn’t go wrong with him.”
Price believes Garrett will be the NFL’s best pass rusher for a decade. He points to his intelligence and film study in gaining small advantages, and to every physical tool needed to take down the quarterback.
“No question he has it all,” Price said. “He’s proven it in the best conference in America. He was the most dominant rush guy for three years.
“No. 1, he has great anticipation of the snap. We worked a lot on keys and athletically he does a great job of getting off on the rock. No. 2, he can bend the edge as good as anybody I’ve been around.”
The easy pass rusher comparisons are Jadeveon Clowney, the No. 1 pick of the Texans in 2014, and Von Miller, a fellow Aggie who was the No. 2 pick by the Broncos in 2011. Former Browns general manager Phil Savage said Garrett’s more athletic than Clowney, and NFL Network’s Mike Mayock gives him the nod over Miller.
“This kid’s got the same explosion off the ball, the same bend, the ability to pressure a quarterback and he’s 20 pounds heavier,” Mayock said. “His upside is he should be a Pro Bowl defensive end. He should be a huge difference-maker in the NFL in the pass game.
“The only way that doesn’t happen is one of two reasons. One, he gets hurt. Or No. 2, he doesn’t want it bad enough. But his physical talent is awesome.”
Despite Garrett being labeled a generational pass rusher by many, the scouting report isn’t completely clean.
Hall of Fame defensive lineman Warren Sapp told ESPN Garrett disappears for stretches in games and isn’t worth the No. 1 pick. He had 4.5 of his 8.5 sacks in 2016 against lowly Texas-San Antonio. And he didn’t give 100 percent effort on every play.
Price said NFL teams have been asking how hard Garrett works on the practice field and if he loves football.
“It’s a resounding answer. He works his butt off on the football field and loves the game,” he said.
Garrett admitted he wasn’t always happy with his effort and needs to improve his consistency so he can dominate everyone, not just the lesser opponents. But he and Price attributed the drop in production to a high ankle sprain that cost Garrett two games and limited him for much of the season.
“I wasn’t myself,” Garrett said at the scouting combine.
“He played through it. That should tell everyone what he’s all about,” Price said. “Where a lot of guys would’ve shut it down, he pushed through. It’s hard to play with a high ankle sprain. It affected every movement he had.
“He never questioned playing. Not one time. I gave him the opportunity to sit down and he always elected to push through. ‘Hey, Coach, I can’t let the team down.’”
Coach Hue Jackson said the Browns believe the injury was the primary reason for lapses in effort.
“I think we’re solving that riddle,” Jackson said at the owners meetings. “I think it’s very clear in my mind and a lot of our minds about where he was and what that was last year.”
Mayock said Garrett’s play before the injury is too good to ignore.
“I keep going back to that UCLA tape and saying this is when he was 100 percent healthy and didn’t have a high ankle and if this is the guy you’re getting, that’s an All-Pro defensive end,” he said. “I understand the tape’s a little bit up and down but I’m willing to live with that based on what I know about what he played through this season.”
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Garrett considered going to Ohio State because he wanted to become a paleontologist but stayed in Texas to be a “cornerstone” of the Aggies program. He’ll have the chance again if he’s selected by the Browns. They’re looking for playmakers on both sides of the ball and special people to help change the losing culture.
“Maybe I can be a voice of leadership that can help swing things,” he said at the combine.
He laid out the other reasons the Browns shouldn’t hesitate to grab him.
“Because I’ll be a difference-maker from Day 1,” he told ESPN. “And I’m not gonna be in any trouble. I’m just gonna make plays and bring a good atmosphere to your organization. And I’m gonna start winning and winning now.
“And because if you don’t draft me No. 1, I will punish your team for the next 10-to-12 years. I’ll knock your QB out of the game every time we play you, and I’ll have to kick the hell out of No. 1, whoever it is.”
He plans to make an immediate and immense impact.
“I gotta win Defensive Player of the Year, whether it’s my first year or anywhere down the line, but that’s what I’m going for in my first year,” he said. “I want to be the sack leader. I want to lead in (tackles for loss). I want to be dominant from Day 1. I want the single-season sack record.”
It sounds like he and the Browns are on the same page.
“When you draft a guy as the No. 1 pick in the National Football League, you want him to be a very dominant player, you want him to be a cornerstone player, you want him to be a generational player,” Jackson said.
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