Myles Garrett has been on the NFL’s radar since he was 16 years old.
Then—when he was a junior at Martin High School in Arlington, Texas—the talk started about this freak defensive end.
Garrett was an all-state honorable mention, made the all-district first team and was a member of the "Super Team"—a kind of all-star squad from the state of Texas.
"Living in the Dallas area and being a scout, people try to hype up their high school kids to you all the time," said an NFL scout who saw Garrett in high school. "Ninety-nine percent of the time, it’s bulls--t, but this kid was the real deal. He looked like Jevon Kearse as a junior."
That freak skill set allowed Garrett to post 27.5 sacks in his final two seasons—19.5 as a senior—at Martin and earned him a Parade All-American selection.
Garrett wasted no time making an impact in College Station. As a true freshman, he posted 11.5 sacks, leading the team in the category while breaking the school and SEC records for a freshman. The guy who Garrett took the SEC freshman record from? Jadeveon Clowney, who had eight sacks in his debut for South Carolina.
The follow-up to his MVP freshman season was just as good. Garrett dominated SEC opponents while going for 12.5 sacks, 19.5 tackles for a loss and a ridiculous five forced fumbles. Those numbers allowed Garrett to win first-team All-American honors and saw him mentioned as a Lombardi award finalist. The hype Garrett showed as a junior in high school was fully on display at Texas A&M, and his rare physical gifts allowed him to rag-doll offensive tackles.
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The knock on Garrett leading up to the 2016 season from football analysts was that he feasted on lesser competition to generate the eye-popping sacks that made him famous. Was Garrett capable of answering the call against top-tier offensive tackles and not second-rate players from directional schools?
He answered those questions in a Week 1 takedown of UCLA left tackle Conor McDermott—a player one NFL team I spoke with had ranked as the No. 3 tackle in the draft class before the season began. Garrett bull-rushed, dipped and spun his way past McDermott for seven quarterback hurries, three hits on passer Josh Rosen and one sack.
With each successful move past McDermott, Garrett’s stock soared.
"You have to realize he’s up to 275 pounds now. To be able to dip, bend and accelerate the way he does at that weight? It’s rare. He’s a generational talent." Those are the words of a longtime SEC scout for an NFL team. When asked for a comparison to Garrett out of all the players he’d seen, the scout replied, "a healthy, hardworking Jadeveon Clowney."
Garrett hasn’t been completely healthy in college, though, missing one game as a freshman with a concussion and having hand surgery in January 2015. This year, Garrett has missed time with an ankle injury but did lace up his cleats for the big showdown with the Tennessee Volunteers that had him limping through pain while delivering seven hurries, one sack and one hit.
The injury is more frustrating than harmful, though, and Garrett’s draft stock has never been higher after NFL evaluators watched him play through injury and show his leadership and toughness in a big moment against unbeaten Tennessee.
What makes Garrett so special?
From a technique standpoint, his size and speed are a dangerous combination. Garrett, whom scouts measured at 278 pounds this summer, has ideal length on a 6'5" frame and can match his speed with power. And one scout I spoke with thought Garrett could easily gain weight to play at 290 pounds without sacrificing flexibility or power.
Garrett is an athletic marvel, but one of the standout aspects of his game has been his consistent improvement at Texas A&M. Many top-ranked high school players arrive on campus with a spotlight on them and never develop football skills. Garrett has been the opposite, staying off Twitter and instead focusing on refining his talent on the field. In 2016, he is showing a much better bull rush and starting to shake off blockers' hands with his hump move.
As a raw athlete, Garrett can do it all. He’s expected to run in the 4.5-second range at the NFL Scouting Combine (per a scout who saw him running this summer) and jump in the 11-foot range in the broad jump. Those numbers would put Garrett in Clowney’s neighborhood as one of the freakiest athletes of the last decade.
NFL scouts also love to look at a player’s family to see if there is a history of athleticism. Garrett’s brother, Sean Williams, has played in the NBA and in Europe, and his sister, Brea Garrett, is a former NCAA champion thrower for the Texas A&M track team. Those bloodlines will have evaluators even more convinced they are getting a world-class athlete.
There is no easy NFL comparison for Garrett. Some may go with Kearse or Julius Peppers, but Garrett is bigger than Kearse (6'4") and has a higher motor than Peppers. He’s definitely not former Aggie Von Miller, but that’s the type of impact he could have as a pass-rusher in a scheme that allows him to go after the quarterback consistently.
Garrett’s upside is unmatched in college football right now. As a true junior and only 20 years old, his remaining ability to grow and develop should have every general manager in the league standing up on the table trying to get Garrett on his team.
Draft season is only at the first-quarter mark, but one thing is already certain: No one in college football is as dominant or talented as Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett.
Advanced statistics provided by Pro Football Focus unless otherwise noted.