With the NFL Draft fast approaching, there are going to be tons of rumors speculating which players teams are going after, and where players would best fit. But in an odd turn of events this past week, the big news came when one of the top prospects in the draft — Texas A&M defender Myles Garrett — pleaded for the Cowboys to trade up and take him at number one overall.
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But this doesn't mean that Garrett, a Texas native, just wants to be picked by his own home team. I believe this means he is sending a message to the Browns… "Don't pick me."
Is Myles Garrett trying to avoid the Browns? (Texas A&M Athletics)
This would hardly be the first instance of a player declaring he does not want to land in a certain destination — see Eli Manning in 2004 and his beef with the Chargers.
This is pure speculation of course, and not a set-in-stone story that Garrett is avoiding the Browns. Garrett has publicly stated he would, in fact, play for Cleveland.
The question does have to be raised, however, about whether or not players really want to go to Cleveland, a team that just barely missed on a winless season in 2016 and has been an absolute trainwreck the entirety of the 2000's. Cleveland hasn't had a winning season since 2007 (10-6), and the franchise has just two winning seasons since the original Browns left for Baltimore and the franchise returned as an expansion team in 1999.
Garrett is also not the first player to make headlines about possibly avoiding Cleveland, as Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson was accused of skipping the Senior Bowl a few weeks ago specifically to stay out of contact with the Browns, helping to ensure they don't pick him at number one, or even number 12.
The national championship-winning quarterback has refuted these claims and is believed to have just taken some time to rest after back-to-back championship appearances. A non-story now, this will undoubtedly flame back up as the NFL Combine approaches in a few weeks and then the actual draft happens in late April.
So why are players seemingly averting their chances at being the first overall pick and the savior to a franchise in desperate need? Probably because of the infatuation with winning each of these players had in college. Call me crazy, but why would a national champion or player who just went through the SEC want to get stuck in Cleveland? To help rebuild the team so often scrutinized as the worst in football? Even Mean Joe Greene didn't want to be the savior of the Steelers.
There is a temptation to avoid losing at any costs I assume, but these prospects just need to grow up and play wherever they get so lucky to be chosen. The Browns, or any other team in the top five picks that went through bad seasons, will eventually find their way back to success, and a player trying to avoid being part of that rebuild could cost himself a chance at fame being the man who led Cleveland — or anyone else — back to prominence.
Only time will tell us if the Browns find this to be an issue with Garrett or Watson, but for now it seems to be just an exaggerated storm that is ready to blow over. By the time the NFL Draft gets here and we are watching along with millions of others on our television sets, we could see the Browns selecting one of these players, and then moving forward as if this never happened.
But the draft build-up is all about stories and rumors, and this is undoubtedly the biggest of them all… so far.