Back UM’s Garvin Presents Boom or Bust Potential

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UM’s Garvin Presents Boom or Bust Potential

By Dave Holcomb
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If he falls to the right team fit, former Miami defensive end Jonathan Garvin could turn into one of the best sleepers of the 2020 class.

There’s a common misconception among football fans that all the best players go in the first round. That’s not exactly true.

Assuming we can agree that the term “best” means the most talented, being “the best” is obviously not the only attribute that determines draft position. This is why talented players with off-the-field questions fall on draft weekend.

Football character is a factor too. NFL organizations strive to find motivated, hard working, team players. It’s hard to fully say how much importance is placed on this factor. While avoiding Johnny Manziel is essential, a team full of Tim Tebow’s isn’t going to win anything in the NFL either.

It doesn’t appear as though Miami defensive end Jonathan Garvin is going to be the league’s next great motivational speaker. He couldn’t even drive himself to provide his best week in and week out with the Hurricanes during his college career. But Garvin has talent, which makes him an intriguing late-round option for an NFL team willing to roll the dice.

Garvin arrived at Miami as a 4-star prospect and the 10th-best strong-side defensive end in the 2017 recruiting class according to 247Sports. He had all the tools to put together a strong college career and eventually a great resume for the next level.

He continued along that projection early in his career. On a defensive unit that led the Power 5 conferences in takeaways, Garvin posted 3.0 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks as a freshman. He also contributed to the “turnover chain” with two forced fumbles and one recovery.

Garvin continued to grow as a sophomore, posting 60 tackles, including a 17.0 total tackles for loss, which was tied for third most in the ACC during 2018. He also had 5.5 sacks, five pass breakups and two quarterback hurries.

But NFL scouts seem alarmed Garvin saw his numbers decrease in his junior season to 37 total tackles, 9.0 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks. Not improving is one thing but Garvin seemed to get worse. Experts have blamed his effort for the statistical setback.

“Garvin’s strong 2018 was followed up with inconsistent effort and an inability to stamp his presence on games with much consistency,” wrote’s Lance Zierlein. “He gained depth upfield quickly and is fairly natural at defeating the punch and flipping the corner. Pressures are nice, but sack-makers get paid and that won’t happen unless he cranks up the effort and plays to his trains and potential.”

Zierlein seems to be arguing that even in his best season, the fact he had so few sacks with a lot of tackles for loss will work against Garvin. Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell led the ACC with 19.0 tackles for loss in 2018, but he also had 11.5 sacks. Ferrell was the No. 4 pick in last year’s draft.

Garvin’s totals in those two categories that season were closer to one of his teammates -- former Miami defensive end Gerald Willis. After 18.0 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks in 2018, Willis was projected to be a mid-round selection last year but went undrafted.

“Garvin has some high-level flashes on tape that reveal an exciting skill set, but they are too often marred by lackadaisical effort which reveals issues with play strength, urgency and contact balance,” wrote Joe Marino of The Draft Network.

But Marino also highlighted Garvin’s age and thus physical potential in his draft skinny, writing that he “is far from maxed out physically which indicates there is plenty of room for him to develop.” Garvin won’t turn 21 until this summer.

He has the talent of a Day 2 prospect but will likely go on Day 3. There’s two different ways to look at that analysis. If he falls to the right team fit, Garvin could turn into one of the best sleepers of the 2020 class. But should he still not exhibit the necessary motivation to get better, Garvin won’t last long in the NFL.