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Who will the Browns take with the No. 1 overall draft pick?

By Mary Kay Cabot • Mar 20, 2017 at 5:16 PM

CLEVELAND — The Browns should draft defensive end Myles Garrett No.1 overall, providing they can't land their franchise quarterback with that pick.

As the predraft process unfolds, if they determine that Mitchell Trubisky can be their quarterback of the future, they should still strongly considering taking him with the top pick.

But I believe they've come to the conclusion that Garrett can be an immediate franchise-changer, whereas the Mentor, Ohio, native and North Carolina product is a developmental project. The payoff might be huge, but they'd have to wait for it, and time is of the essence.

The risk in this approach is that they might lose Trubisky to another team, such as the 49ers at No. 2 or the Bears at No. 3.

I think the Browns are fairly confident that Trubisky and/or Deshaun Watson will still be available to them at No. 12, and that they might emerge from this draft with their enforcer on defense and their franchise quarterback.

But nothing is ever certain in the world of college prospects. Some get overdrafted and some tumble inexplicably.

No one knows for sure what will happen until draft day, and by then it could be too late. The Browns also have the option of trading back up from No. 12 to draft Trubisky, but the price would likely be high -- remember what the Eagles gave up last year to climb from No. 8 to No. 2 -- and there's no guarantee they can pull it off.

The Browns will most likely take their chances on a pass-rusher who has been described as a physical freak and who blew everyone away at the NFL Combine earlier this month.

But I would also trade the top pick to New England for Jimmy Garoppolo if that's what it takes. Granted, you wouldn't start there, but if it's the only way to get Bill Belichick to part with his beloved backup, I'd do it. If you're willing to give up No. 12 for him, which I believe they would be, why not No. 1 for a chance to transform your franchise?

As I've stated before, I don't think the Browns would do that, but I wouldn't hesitate. In my mind, a potential franchise quarterback trumps an elite pass-rusher any day.

The Patriots won the Super Bowl with their leading sacker in Trey Flowers tying for 36th in the NFL with seven sacks.

One league source close to the situation speculated that the Patriots would want at least two first-rounders for Garoppolo. If that's true, talks won't get very far, because there's no way the rebuilding Browns, who love high draft picks, will do that. But if takes the No. 1 overall and some second-rounders, I think that's reasonable.

No one knows for sure if Garappolo will be the next Tom Brady, but no one also knows if Garrett will be the generational pass-rusher most folks seem convinced he'll be.

I've watched enough of Garrett's tape to have concerns. In some games, he's unstoppable, such as against Arizona in 2015. But I wasn't overly impressed with his outing against Alabama last season. When tackle Cam Robinson got his hands on Garrett, he was able to block him one-on-one. Garrett didn't demonstrate enough moves -- or good enough handwork -- to beat him as often as he should have.

I've also seen Garrett stopped one-on-one by tight ends at times. Too frequently, it appears that he doesn't want it enough. When he goes unblocked, he's lightning fast and the quarterback or running back has no chance. But when someone gets his hands on him, he doesn't have the technique to shed consistently enough. With his speed, explosiveness off the ball and athleticism, he should have taken over more games and dominated on more plays.

Granted, he was playing with a sprained ankle last season, and there was a marked difference between his hustle in 2015 and 2016. At times, you could see him limping after a play last season. I'm sure that had a profound impact on his game.

There's enough tape, however, to indicate that Garrett can be a beast at the next level with the right coaching. At the Senior Bowl in January, I asked Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams about Garrett's apparent inconsistent effort, and Williams described himself as a "motor coach'' -- one who's confident he can light a fire under Garrett and keep it burning.

All indications are that Williams loves him and believes he can be the cornerstone of his defense. Besides, there's no one in this draft that grades out as high as Garrett.

Taking him at No. 1 is the wise decision — unless the Browns can land their franchise quarterback with that pick, either one who can start right away or one who might need a little time.


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