CLEVELAND -- No. 1 pick Myles Garrett has done a lot of talking before participating in his first NFL practice. The former Texas A&M pass rusher not only said he plans to break the rookie and season sack records, he’s repeatedly made it clear he wants to be considered the greatest player in league history.
Browns head of football operations Sashi Brown is comfortable with Garrett’s bravado.
“We’re not scared of it,” Brown said Wednesday during a The Press Club of Cleveland luncheon at FirstEnergy Stadium. “Myles has the right amount of levity balancing that confidence.”
The day after Garrett was drafted, he identified Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisbeger as his “first target.” The Steelers noticed.
“I was talking to (Maurkice Pouncey) after Garrett called me out,” Roethlisberger told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Pounce got a big kick out of it. All of my linemen enjoyed hearing it.”
The Browns will host the Steelers in the opener Sept. 10.
“See you 9/10 big fella,” Steelers right tackle Marcus Gilbert tweeted. “You’ll get your shot pup.”
Brown has Garrett’s back.
“I don’t think you guys can relate to the amount of attention that this young man or anybody who’s going to be a No. 1 draft pick has,” Brown said during the question-and-answer session. “This is a 21-year-old young man who’s wise beyond his years. He didn’t say he’d hurt Ben, he did say he’d take him down, but you have to spend time with him. You have to understand what his values are.
“He’s very confident in his abilities. He works his tail off. What we found is that he’s about as hard-working as any college prospect we’ve had. He’s been a double-digit sack guy throughout his career. He played through injury, he’s extremely talented, everything he’s been asked to do, he’s done well.”
Garrett will join the other nine draft picks, undrafted free agents and tryout players this weekend in rookie minicamp. They’ll take the field for the first time Friday.
Brown said it’s not proper to judge Garrett based on a few sound bites.
“I just don’t think the 160-carat tweets and headlines that get taken out of context often should reflect who the person is,” Brown said. “It’s easy in this world to judge based on the headlines, and I think increasingly we’re finding, and Donald Trump’s finding this out, how difficult it is to survive in a public job and that’s what being the No. 1 draft pick is for about three or four months and now he’s going to understand it’s a longer-term deal that he asked for and he wants it.”
Brown said Garrett is an “amazing, amazing athlete” and the physical ability “screams” on tape. But that’s only part of the process in becoming the top pick. The Browns sent an extra scout to Texas A&M, then Brown and Co. spent half a day with each of the top handful of draft prospects.
“We just got a chance to know these guys as people,” Brown said. “As much as the talent matters, at this level character is a grand separator.
“And Myles is a guy who is fairly soft-spoken but is confident. So he’s not a braggart, he’s not a wilted flower, either. He’s very confident in what he wants to do, he’s very competitive, deliberate, he’s very bright, intelligent, scored incredibly well on some of the psychological testing we did with him. He’s kind of a boring kid, in some ways, which is a great thing for us.”
North Carolina quarterback and Mentor native Mitchell Trubisky was reportedly the other option for the Browns with the No. 1 pick. In Trubisky’s favor was the Browns’ seemingly eternal search for a quarterback, but it couldn’t trump the promise of Garrett.
“The reality is, even taken at the top of the draft, the fail rate is extremely high,” Brown said of quarterbacks. “We felt just simply the better option for our team because we didn’t have a great pass rush, either, we would get Myles. But that’s not a slight on Mitch. We actually think he’s talented and has the potential to have a bright career ahead.”
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