I'm starting to wonder a little bit about presumptive NFL No. 1 draft pick Myles Garrett.
It's not his physical ability. That is universally unquestioned. I mean, the guy ran the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds and he's listed at 272 pounds. Maybe even more impressively, he had a 41-inch vertical leap at the NFL Scouting Combine. That's pretty much unfathomable and a testament to his athleticism and explosiveness. And did I mention that he has 35 1/4-inch arms?
There aren't many concerns about his production, either, although many have pointed out that he had 4 1/2 of his 8 1/2 sacks this past season against UTSA -- not exactly a powerhouse program.
Garrett did plenty his first two years, racking up 24 sacks during his first two college seasons in one of the best -- if not the best -- conferences in the country. Plus, he was injured this past season and a case could be made that it says a lot about him that he played through that pain most of the time even though he had already long since established himself as a high draft pick.
I'm more worried about some of the things Garrett has done off the field.
These aren't character issues, mind you. By all accounts Garrett is a great kid and of no concern in that area, which is more than what can be said of a bunch of other top prospects in this draft.
But there was that video Garrett filmed in which he pleaded for Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to trade Tony Romo to the Cleveland Browns so that Garrett could potentially get drafted by Dallas and play for his hometown team. Many have said that Garrett was joking. Others have said it is understandable, since he grew up in the shadows of AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Still others have simply shrugged and offered a "Can you blame him?" when looking at the two franchises involved.
How about just an acknowledgement that it was an immature and short-sighted thing to do? Garrett is about to become a pro football player now, and every decision should be treated as such. Why on earth would you do anything to alienate some part of your future fan base in Cleveland, no matter how big or how small? Whether the video was done in jest or not, do you think Browns fans enjoy watching a video in which the guy they are hoping can help them get back to respectability is begging to not play for them?
It's just not very smart.
Then there are some of the events of the past week. Garrett was at ESPN for a day to go on a battery of television and radio shows at the Worldwide Leader's Bristol, Conn., campus. Included in that rotation was "Mike and Mike," the network's popular morning radio show. At least it was, until Garrett looked inside the studio and saw that Booger McFarland was filling in as a guest host that day. It seems McFarland, a former NFL defensive lineman himself, had been critical of Garrett this season, and Garrett didn't like it. Because of McFarland's presence, Garrett declined to partake in the interview.
That's entirely his right, of course, but if he doesn't like criticism, he better produce in a major way -- and early -- in Cleveland. He's going to be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft for one of the worst teams in the NFL; the scrutiny is going to be tremendous. How is he going to handle the first negative columns written about him or things said about him on talk radio if he isn't lighting the league on fire to start off his career?
Last but certainly not least was a quote from Garrett in an ESPN the Magazine article in which he was evidently discussing a wide array of topics -- from Neil deGrasse Tyson and Maya Angelou to his love of paleontology -- before saying:
"I don't think I'm the smartest player in the draft … but if you consider all the things I think about daily, how many things intrigue me and I try to get involved in, I'm up there."
Seriously? Who talks about themselves and their own intelligence like that?
Like any of these things involving Garrett, in and of itself it's not that big of a deal, but I can only imagine the text messages that I would get from my close friends if I was quoted saying something like that. Let's just say none of them would be fit for print. And rightfully so!
If Garrett had done just one of these, I probably would barely have even noticed. Two of them may have caught my attention, but even that is debatable. But three? That has me scratching my head a bit about the type of person Garrett is and player he will be. At a minimum, he will be a truly unique personality among elite pass rushers in the NFL if he gets to that level, that's for sure.
In fairness to Garrett, after I raised some of these questions on Twitter, a scout for whom I have great respect reached out and aggressively defended him. He described Garrett as a "little Urkel-like," a reference to the former well-known sitcom nerd, while suggesting that he "may be a little self-conscious about being labeled a dumb jock" but assured me that if I got the chance to sit down with Garrett for any extended period that I wouldn't have any concerns about him at the next level. His greater point was that with all the controversial guys that will be drafted next week, it's a shame that I'm voicing concerns about a squeaky-clean kid like Garrett.
That point is well taken, but that doesn't mean I'm not still a little concerned about how Garrett will handle the intensity of the NFL in general and the environment in blue-collar Cleveland in particular.
In my mind, he already has three small strikes against him. But I'm still far from saying that he's out.