Myles Garrett or Mitch Trubisky: How close did the Browns really come to 2017 NFL Draft disaster?

At the time of the 2017 NFL Draft, it seemed like there was an easy choice for the Browns with the No. 1 overall selection.

Myles Garrett was the clear-cut top prospect in the draft. He was one of the most productive defensive players in college football in his three years at Texas A&M, and he was projected to be the NFL’s next great pass rusher once he reached the league.

The Browns ended up going with the consensus and selecting Garrett with the first pick in the draft. However, the team did consider other players with the first pick. And per usual, that included looking at a quarterback.

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The 2017 NFL Draft wasn’t considered to be particularly strong at quarterback. Still, the Browns looked at Mitch Trubisky with the No. 1 overall selection. The UNC product had strong Cleveland ties after growing up in Ohio. He was named Ohio Mr. Football for 2012 and his skill set as an accurate, mobile quarterback piqued the interest of the Browns — and other NFL teams, too.

Ultimately, Trubisky was selected with the No. 2 overall pick in the draft by the Bears. Chicago traded up from the No. 3 pick to No. 2 to ensure it would get him. Meanwhile, the Browns went with Garrett in the first round along with safety Jabrill Peppers and tight end David Njoku before choosing quarterback DeShone Kizer in the second round to be the team’s new quarterback.

But just how close was Trubisky to joining the Browns? Below is a recap of the Browns’ choice atop the 2017 NFL Draft. While it was easy in retrospect, there was reportedly a divide among the organization about who to select No. 1 overall.

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Why did the Browns select Myles Garrett?

Garrett was the consensus No. 1 prospect in the 2017 NFL Draft for almost the entire lead-up to the event. He was frequently mocked as the No. 1 pick before, during and after his final year at Texas A&M and further solidified that label during the pre-draft process.

The Browns considered other prospects with the No. 1 overall selection, but at the end of the day, both coach Hue Jackson and general manager Sashi Brown were excited to select Garrett.

Part of what sold the Browns on Garrett was his personality. Brown referred to the defensive end as an “old soul” and routinely praised his intelligence and character during a post-draft news conference.

“He’s a very, very intelligent, young man,” Brown said of Garrett. “[In] our psych testing and background testing on him, he was off the charts.” Physically. You guys have seen them. You know,

Brown also acknowledged that Cleveland was sold on Garrett’s combination of size and athletic ability. The 6-4, 272-pound defensive end clocked a 4.64 in 40-yard dash, logged 33 bench press reps with 35 1/4-inch arms and showed explosive traits during on-field workouts at the NFL Combine.

I don’t think there’s a better prospect that has come out in terms of an athlete at that size in some time. And so it gives him an awesome opportunity to be really successful for us and an impact player day one.

If those points weren’t enough, Brown also explained that Garrett’s work ethic was strong during their pre-draft visit with him.

“When we went to have dinner with him, he was coming from a workout and go to a workout in the morning,” Brown said. “He really just eats drinks and sleeps football.”

Like Brown, Jackson was also on board with selecting Garrett. He believed that the Texas A&M product would be able to be an impact player and potentially develop into an all-time great.

“This guy is as good as I’ve seen in a while,” Jackson said. “Not just as a football player, but also as a person. And what he wants to become — he has a burning desire to be one of the best in football.”

We have the right guy, he’s just got to come in and do it consistently over time and the rest will take care of itself.

Garrett has been everything that Cleveland hoped he would be. During his first five NFL seasons, Garrett racked up 58.5 sacks and was named an All-Pro first-teamer twice. He had four consecutive seasons with at least 10 sacks, and that included a 2019 campaign during which he played just 10 total games.

Garrett’s performance earned him a five-year deal worth $125 million in total, good for the highest overall value mark among NFL defensive ends. So, needless to say, the Browns are very happy with the player they ended up with at No. 1 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft.

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Did the Browns consider drafting Mitch Trubisky?

Yes, the Browns did consider taking Trubisky with the No. 1 overall pick. At least, that’s according to their head coach at the time, Hue Jackson.

Jackson revealed to Mike Silver on a 2021 episode of the “Pass It Down” podcast that there was a “divide” within the Browns organization about who the team should take No. 1 overall.

“I wanted Myles Garrett and I’m an offensive coach,” Jackson said. “I didn’t think there was a quarterback worth being the first pick in the draft.”

Despite Jackson’s opinion, there were members of the Cleveland organization that wanted Trubisky. So, a spirited debate ensued within the organization as the draft drew nearer.

There were others that were lock and barrel on Mitchell Trubisky and me being a quarterback guy, I did not want that. I liked Mitchell, but I didn’t think he was the first pick of the draft at quarterback. There were some rumblings about that and I think everybody knew that. There was truly divide. But the day of the draft, we obviously ended up picking Myles and rightfully so.

As Jackson referenced, the Browns made the correct decision, at least binarily. Trubisky was selected No. 2 overall by the Bears, who traded up from the No. 3 spot to select the UNC product. He posted a 29-21 record in Chicago but was merely a decent starter. He averaged 3,536 passing yards, 21 touchdowns and 12 interceptions per 17 games played with the Bears.

Indeed, that isn’t production worthy of being the No. 1 overall pick.

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2017 NFL Draft

While Jackson’s assessment of Trubisky was correct, he was proven wrong that there was no quarterback worthy of being the first pick in the draft. Patrick Mahomes was selected 10th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft and has since developed into one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks. 

Perhaps Mahomes would have developed differently with the Browns than he did with the Chiefs; but still, if the Browns could re-do the 2017 NFL Draft, they would likely take Mahomes at No. 1 overall even despite their love for Garrett.

Below is a look at how the entire first round of the 2017 NFL Draft played out:

Pick No. Team Player Position School
1 Browns Myles Garrett DE Texas A&M
2 Bears Mitch Trubisky QB UNC
3 49ers Solomon Thomas DE Stanford
4 Jaguars Leonard Fournette RB LSU
5 Titans Corey Davis WR Western Michigan
6 Jets Jamal Adams S LSU
7 Chargers Mike Williams WR Clemson
8 Panthers Christian McCaffrey RB Stanford
9 Bengals John Ross WR Washington
10 Chiefs Patrick Mahomes QB Texas Tech
11 Saints Marshon Lattimore CB Ohio State
12 Texans Deshaun Watson QB Clemson
13 Cardinals Haason Reddick LB Temple
14 Eagles Derek Barnett DE Tennessee
15 Colts Malik Hooker S Ohio State
16 Ravens Marlon Humphrey CB Alabama
17 Commanders Jonathan Allen DL Alabama
18 Titans Adoree’ Jackson CB USC
19 Buccaneers O.J. Howard TE Alabama
20 Broncos Garett Bolles OT Utah
21 Lions Jarrad Davis LB Florida
22 Dolphins Charles Harris DE Missouri
23 Giants Evan Engram TE Ole Miss
24 Raiders Gareon Conley CB Ohio State
25 Browns Jabrill Peppers S Michigan
26 Falcons Takkarist McKinley DE UCLA
27 Bills Tre’Davious White CB LSU
28 Cowboys Taco Charlton DE Michigan
29 Browns David Njoku TE Miami
30 Steelers T.J. Watt LB Wisconsin
31 49ers Reuben Foster LB Alabama
32 Saints Ryan Ramczyk OT Wisconsin
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