BEREA, Ohio (AP) Joe Haden has watched the tape and arrived at an easy decision: Myles Garrett.
Cleveland’s front office may still be weighing its options with the No. 1 overall pick in next week’s NFL draft, but Haden has made up his mind and wants Texas A&M’s Garrett, a 6-foot-4, 272-pound freight train in shoulder pads.
”I would be super-excited if they took this guy Myles Garrett,” said the star cornerback.
Haden didn’t need much prompting to blurt out Garrett’s name, and he didn’t hold back while urging the Browns, coming off a 1-15 season, to snag the defensive standout considered the cream of the crop in a defense-rich draft.
Haden’s job description doesn’t include talent evaluator, but if he was putting together a mock draft, Garrett would be his first – and only – choice.
”If it was my draft, then he would be,” Haden said with a smile. ”But don’t get me in trouble.”
It would seem the Browns, who have a checkered draft history, can’t go wrong if they take Garrett, who dropped jaws at the NFL combine with a 41-inch vertical jump and 4.64-second 40-yard dash.
He’s the consensus top player available, and the Browns will have first crack at him.
Haden, the No. 7 overall pick in 2010, is convinced Garrett can change Cleveland.
”Watching him on tape I just feel like he’ll be an immediate impact player,” said the two-time Pro Bowler, ”and I just feel like he’ll be a guy that we could have rushing the passer for years to come. You know that timing in a quarterback’s head, that knowing that he’s about to get hit and being able to get there and get that pressure on him, it helps out the secondary big time.”
Garrett is presumed to be Cleveland’s top choice as well, and the team has done its homework on the 21-year-old, putting him through a private workout and getting to know him on a personal level. He had dinner with coach Hue Jackson.
In three years with the Aggies, Garrett made 31 sacks and 47 tackles for loss.
The Browns also own the No. 12 overall pick, a selection they could use to find that elusive franchise quarterback, and five of the first 65 picks. Those assets could help turn around a franchise that hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2002 and endured 12 double-digit-loss seasons since.
The abundance of high picks is nice, but for Haden, the first one is the only one that matters.
”After that one, that Myles, then I really don’t care,” Haden said. ”After No. 1, I’m good. They can just do whatever they gotta do.”
Haden is fully recovered from a serious groin injury that limited him last season and required surgery. The losing – and criticism about his play – took a toll. He couldn’t wait to put the worst season of his career behind him.
”I think I can be the best corner in the game still,” he said. ”This is my eighth season, I just turned 28, I’m ready to get after it. Without the injuries, without the stuff – it’s been a lot, it’s been tough, trying to fight through it, but I feel like when I’m out there healthy, can’t nobody mess with me.”
Haden has also been re-energized by the arrival of new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who has lived up to his no-nonsense reputation already. Best known for his involvement in the New Orleans bounties scandal, Williams wasted no time in laying out his expectations to Haden and Cleveland’s other defensive players.
”It doesn’t matter when you got drafted or who you are, he’s going to be in your face no matter what,” Haden said. ”You’ve just got to accept it. You’ve got to make plays to be out there on the field. The biggest thing is just the accountability thing of calling you out, being in your face, and there’s really nothing you can do about it.”
Williams’ brash style isn’t for everybody. Haden welcomes it.
”It’s a shock, but that’s what we need,” he said. ”We need somebody that’s going to switch it up, change it up, tell us something, cuss us out, scream at us, let us know that we’re sorry right now and we’ve got to be better. I’m excited about having him here, because I feel like it’s a new energy and, shoot, we need that.”
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