PHILADELPHIA — A few hours before the draft, Bus Cook, the agent for defensive end Myles Garrett, said he did not know if the Cleveland Browns would make Garrett the draft’s No. 1 pick. The Browns have since told Garrett that they’ll pick him first overall.
But Cook was still counting on it.
"I do not know, but I am hopeful it will happen,’’ Cook said in a telephone interview late Thursday afternoon. "And I am encouraged by something. We represent Jamie Collins. When we did his deal with Cleveland they stressed that they were going to build that franchise from the ground up on defense. If that’s the case, if they still feel that way, then Myles is the guy in this draft for that. We’ll see.’’
Cook used a surprising source to help prepare Garrett for the draft process, for this day, and for his NFL future -– longtime NFL head coach Jeff Fisher, most recently of the Los Angeles Rams.
"I admire Jeff Fisher as a person and as a coach,’’ Cook said. "I could not think of anyone better suited to counsel Myles. Jeff Fisher is a coach who cared about his players.’’
Especially quarterback Steve McNair, who Cook represented and who Fisher coached for the bulk of McNair’s career. Cook’s and Fisher’s bond over McNair remains strong.
"Bus called and I went, back in February,’’ Fisher said. "I flew from L.A. to Houston and drove over to the Texas A&M campus. It wasn’t that long after I had been let go by the Rams and it was the first and only thing I have done with football since.
"We met for about eight hours. There was a feeling out period. He was a little nervous at first. But he settled down and I could see his confidence. We talked about what happens on draft day, after draft day with OTAs, through the summer and into camp. We talked about the combine.’’
Garrett was not planning on working out at the combine.
Fisher convinced him otherwise.
He told him if he only worked out at his pro day and happened to pull a muscle or suffer another injury, then what? There would not be other workout results for NFL teams to consider. He told him he must work out. So, Garrett did. And Cook said that Garrett is thankful that he listened to Fisher’s combine advice. So is Cook.
"We did a lot of role playing to prepare for what the combine interviews entailed,’’ Fisher said. "I asked those combine questions of players for the last 30 years. So, I was able to guide him through that, press him some, come harder with him. We watched tape. He is an outstanding young man. I enjoyed the day. Let me put it this way — I left that meeting thinking I could leave my kids with him to look after them for a bit and never have to call once. He’s that responsible, that family-oriented. He is a nutrition guy who takes care of his body. A-plus character.’’
Fisher said Garrett as a pass-rushing specialist has a natural knack and feel for it, that he keeps his pad level correct and hand use effective. He said Garrett is a technician at it, that he studies opponents and quarterbacks.
He said Garrett can line up left or right or wherever an NFL defense desires. Fisher added that those that say Garrett took plays off in college or became invisible in instances are not accounting for the fact that often he played so many consecutive defensive plays with huge demand and was simply tired on some downs. They asked a lot of him at Texas A&M, said Fisher, and Garrett gave a lot. Even at the NFL level, players get tired on certain plays, Fisher said.
The question for Fisher is what do star defensive players consistently do and how do they play when the game matters most?
"I see an outstanding athlete,’’ Fisher said. "I see a young man who is going to be very successful in the NFL.’’
And if they stay with their defensive-minded building, it will be with the Cleveland Browns.