The first pick of the 2017 NFL draft already may have been decided.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise if the Cleveland Browns have made up their minds. They’ve been on the clock since Jan. 1, when they lost 27-24 in overtime at Pittsburgh to move to 1-15 on the season.
Though there has been some recent back-and-forth about the possibility of the Browns taking a quarterback with the first pick, or trading down, since they need, roughly, one of everything, there are also some hints that the pick, in a de facto sense, could already be in for Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett.
This should all be presented with the caveat that anything can happen on draft day. Aaron Rodgers sat there for 23 excruciating picks before the Packers fell into the franchise quarterback with the 24th pick in 2005. Even last year, the Cowboys shocked the football world by taking linebacker Jaylon Smith out of Notre Dame in the second round, knowing he would not play at all his rookie season after suffering a torn ACL in his final collegiate game, the 2016 Fiesta Bowl.
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So, crazy things happen.
That said, there are some signs that popular opinion will win out and Garrett will be the selection when the Browns are called to make the first pick of the 2017 NFL draft Thursday night.
Browns coach Hue Jackson has declared his preference for Garrett over any of the quarterbacks in the draft. So has All-Pro cornerback Joe Haden, although he presumably holds even less sway over the draft room than does Jackson, who is Cleveland’s sixth head coach in the past 13 seasons.
But perhaps more interestingly, Garrett’s Twitter account seems to have a certain Cleveland undercurrent to it as well. For instance, he referred to the Cleveland community as “we” when commenting Sunday on the murder in that city that was broadcast on Facebook.
"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity." Praying for Cleveland and that we unite for strength.— Myles Garrett (@MylesLGarrett) April 16, 2017
Also, on the list of the 73 accounts he follows, four are Cleveland Browns players: Haden, defensive end Carl Nassib, defensive tackle Danny Shelton and offensive tackle Joe Thomas.
Is this evidence? Hardly, but it does seem that Garrett is forming the beginnings of a bond with Cleveland. He has Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Terry Pluto on board, for whatever that’s worth, as well.
In fact, take a look at what the Plain Dealer sports staff said Friday about the Browns taking Garrett:
Matthew Martinez: 817-390-7667; @MCTinez817