Each and every year Ohio State is one of the leaders in total players drafted to the NFL. In this series, I am going to be profiling the former Ohio State Buckeyes who have declared for the NFL Draft.
The Ohio State Buckeyes received a huge boost during the 2021 offseason when Haskell Garrett announced his intentions to return for a fifth season. Coming back to improve his draft stock and put a pin into some unfinished business, Garrett has his usual impact on games. The Buckeye defensive tackle was a timely pass rusher and big playmaker in some key moments coming away with 5.5 a half sacks.
As Garrett looks to become an NFL rotation player, his pass rushing acumen will be an important skill. Despite being an elite pass rusher for an interior defensive linemen, he lacks the play strength NFL teams want in their 3-technique defensive tackles. In both the Oregon and Michigan games we saw Garrett get pushed around, this will be notable when it comes to his evaluation. NFL teams will love his intangibles and passing rushing ability, but his lack of consistency against the run will impact where his draft position.
Overall, NFL teams will be getting a player who plays incredibly hard and is a high end pass rusher for the position.
Haskell Garrett Draft Round Projection: 3rd-4th Round Pick
With the Super Bowl being the most recent example, dominant interior pass rushers is a significant part in playing defense in the modern game. With players like Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh changing out comes of Super Bowls the last two seasons, NFL teams are placing a huge emphasis on being able to stop the prolific passers in the league. This is where Garrett’s higher projection comes into play since he has been a productive pass rusher for the defensive tackle position in his career.
Garrett will need to test well at the combine and pro-day, but his intangibles will be a selling point as well. As heart of the front seven the last two seasons, his leadership ability will help him when it comes to interviews with NFL front offices. The only issue Garrett has to overcome is defending the run. Eating up double teams and blockers is an ability that Garrett flashed, and this is a requirement at the next level. Sometimes his motor would fail him in this regard and this is something that has been highlighted by many.
For Haskell and the rest of the Buckeye defenders, the overarching issue of Ohio State’s defense was lacking physicality and in every case that starts up front. This will be the one question Garrett will have to answer to have success at the next level.
Pass Rush Ability
Haskell Garrett has quite a few highlight sacks, but I wanted to look at one that shows the work rate a lot of NFL personnel people are having trouble seeing. In this play, the Buckeyes are taking on Indiana, and they bring a standard four man rush.
Garrett uses a power rush to get the offensive guard off balance, by using his hands effectively this allows for him to gain immediate leverage. Indiana’s quarterback is forced to try to escape on this play, but is unable to with Ohio State’s defensive ends doing their jobs. Garrett keeps his pass rush lane discipline and when Indiana’s quarterback tries to escape, Garrett is able to disengage his blocker and make the play in the backfield. This play shows that even when Garrett loses his initial move, he is still a dangerous pass rusher and can finish the job.
Effective Run Game Defender
Garrett sometimes lacks the physicality to consistently make a difference in the run game. He will need to improve on his play strength against double teams as well as having a consistent motor.
In this play against Oregon, the Buckeyes are facing a 2nd-and-3 situation against a team whose bread and butter is a physical run game. Garrett gets a a single blocker who is trying to wash him up the field away from the run action. After a great get off, Garrett is able to get passed his defender and establish leverage. He makes a fundamentally sound tackle in the backfield and keeps Oregon from getting a first down. NFL teams have questioned his physicality at the point of attack, but Garrett has shown flashes of being able to do this at a high level. He will need to continue to develop in this regard because his lack of consistency against the run is a real question that will need to be answered.
Disrupting Passing Lanes
Larry Johnson has been a modern day pioneer in creating disruption for opposing teams’ passing games. A trait that all his players develop in their time at Ohio State is the ability to disrupt the passing game with deflections.
In this play, Garrett is doing a mush rush – a rush where a defensive linemen stops after his initial move to limit mobile quarterbacks – and keeps Sean Clifford in the pocket. Clifford keeps his eyes down field, but Garrett is able to move laterally with him. Clifford rears up to throw and Garrett matches the hand of the quarterback getting his arm into the passing lane deflecting the pass. This is an important skill set with mobile quarterbacks and shorter quarterbacks becoming more common in the NFL every year.
Scheme and Team Fits
Haskell Garrett will need to be drafted to a team that runs four down linemen due to his size. He is too big to play as a 3-4 defensive end and too small to play as a traditional noes tackle in either 3-4 or 4-3 defense. Garrett has a definitive position, which cuts the places he can play in half with only 16 of the 32 teams in the NFL running a 4-3. The advantage of Garret’s position is most teams carry up to eight players at the position meaning depth is an important factor. As we look at some of the scheme fits,
Cincinnati Bengals (4th Round): The Cincinnati Bengals are coming off a loss in the Super Bowl, after addressing needs on the offensive line they can look to defensive tackle. B.J. Hill made an incredible impact in Cincinnati and Haskell Garrett can provide a great rotational piece behind Hill in 2022.
Las Vegas Raiders (4th Round): With a Buckeye at nose tackle in Johnathon Hankins, Garrett can fill out this room well. The Raiders have decisions to make with Quinton Jefferson and Soloman Thomas, both of whom are hitting free agency this offseason. Garrett can be a cheap replacement with a fourth round pick for the Raiders.
Pittsburgh Steelers (4th Round): The Steelers run a 3-4, but they value interior defensive linemen like Garrett. Joining Cam Heyward also would not be bad for Garrett, but how much Pittsburgh wants to move around their interior personnel, there is a ton of value in his skillset.
Baltimore Ravens (4th Round): The Ravens have taken their fair share of Buckeyes and this trend could continue here. Garrett fits perfectly to what the Ravens are trying to accomplish under Mike MacDonald.
B.J. Hill (Cincinnati Bengals): Hill found his footing when he got to Cincinnati bringing a versatility and willingness to the Bengals. Both players don’t have the ideal size, but make up for it with fundamentals and high motors. Garrett would be the perfect back up for Hill because their such similar players.
Stephon Tuitt (Pittsburgh Steelers): Tuitt has a little bit more length than Garrett, but plays the ideal role that Garrett could excel in. The former Buckeye is able to disrupt the passing game by pressuring the quarterback or deflecting passes at the line of scrimmage. This is where Tuitt has excelled and even took his game to another level this year.
In the name of fairness, here are some other evaluations from “NFL Draft Experts”:
BR NFL SCOUTING DEPARTMENT: “Garrett is a run-of-the-mill penetrating 3-technique. At Ohio State, he saw time at both 1-tech and 3-tech but will not be able to play much 1-tech in the NFL. Garrett wins as a 3-tech thanks to his first step and pliability. Though he does not come off the ball and pop offensive linemen, he does fire off the ball into gaps with enough burst to be a problem for offenses.”
Oliver Hodkinson (Pro Football Network): “Garrett has the potential to be an early Day 3 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. His scouting report reveals the athletic ability, motor, and character that NFL teams will love. However, there are some elements of the Ohio State defensive tackle’s scouting report that will limit his draft potential.”
Vinnie Calderone (Sports Illustrated Fan Nation): “Garrett attracts double teams often because of his ability on the defensive line, which allows other rushers to get freed and swarm to the ball carrier. He has a quick get-off with an average lower-body explosion. He has the strength to bull rush but plays with a more finesse style to his game”
The former Ohio State captain has an incredible first step and plays with a high motor. NFL teams will be willing to take a chance on him especially the later it gets in the draft. For Garrett to be successful, he will have to continue to improve as a pass rusher and develop more play strength against the run game. As we saw, Garrett can do everything teams ask of 3-techniques and can be an impact player at the next level.
For Garrett to be successful, getting drafted to a team that can utilize his strengths and allow him to develop with a smaller rotational role will play a significant role in his success. There’s a good list of players who play a similar style, and getting drafted to learn behind one of them can create great depth as well as give Garrett an example to follow. For a team looking for a great situational pass rusher and a plug-and-play depth, guy Haskell Garrett can fill that role. He’ll only be able to play in a 3-technique or similar gap responsibilities, so that limits his potential fits.
In the end, Haskell Garrett won’t be the flashiest Buckeye drafted, but a team will find value in his skills leading to him getting drafted. Look for Garrett to get drafted in the fourth round and find a way to make an impact early in his career.