Bruce Smith knows the path Myles Garrett traveled to the NFL well.
Both were star defensive ends in college. Both were top overall draft picks.
Now Smith, whom the Bills made the draft's first choice in 1985, wants to help Garrett, whom the Cleveland Browns selected in the same spot last April, live up to his lofty billing. For Garrett, having a Hall-of-Famer and the league's all-time sack leader as a mentor is about as good as it gets.
“He’s got all of the physical talents, the God-given talents,” Smith told Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon-Journal. “He just needs to learn how to be a pro now. There’s a difference between being a college player and being a pro in the NFL. That’s the process that he has to undergo. We all had to go through it."
Smith is optimistic the former Texas A&M standout can have a "successful" NFL career.
“It’s just the level of success that he reaches could be contingent upon the decisions that are made for him at an early stage of his career," the former Bill said. "The advice, the coaching, the tutelage that he gets right now could determine whether he’s an impact player in his first or second year or his fourth or fifth year.”
After a disappointing rookie season, Smith began taking flight as one of the game's all-time greats. He dramatically improved his physical conditioning and developed a wide range of pass-rush moves.
One observation Smith made while watching video of Garrett while spending draft day with him was that he needed to be quicker off the ball.
“There were occasions in which he was just a little slow off the ball, and that fraction of a second of being slow off the ball is the difference of whether that offensive lineman is set in a certain position to be able to take you on,” Smith said. “If you get off the ball simultaneously to that ball being snapped, sometimes you’re going to beat that offensive lineman out of his stance, and then on other occasions, it’s going to be the difference of whether you get a sack, forced fumble or just a hit on the quarterback or just a hurry."