On September 14, the Vikings announced the signing of outside linebacker Chris Garrett, who spent last season with O’Connell in Los Angeles as a 2021 seventh-round draft pick.
Garrett slots into 2021 fourth-round pass-rusher Janarius Robinson‘s place on the practice squad after Robinson signed with the Philadelphia Eagles on September 13. Robinson missed his entire rookie year after suffering a season-ending injury before the start of the season.
Garrett appeared in one game with the Rams last season, playing on both defense and special teams. He was waived by Los Angeles on August 30.
Chris Garrett Wreaked Havoc for Minnesota College
A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Garrett was a Division I prospect coming out of high school, including from the Badgers, however, his grades suffered due to growing up as a highly mobile youth.
“There was just one catch: Wisconsin’s academic standards. Garrett’s grades weren’t ‘terrible,’… but he had a long way to go,” TheRams.com’s Stu Jackson wrote. “They worked with his school counselors to close the gap, but Garrett’s grades still weren’t good enough, and Wisconsin fell off.”
Garrett was seen as a walk-on prospect by schools including Western Illinois and Northern Illinois, but couldn’t take the risk with his family’s financial situation, instead opting to attend Concordia-St. Paul on a full-ride scholarship.
It paid dividends — for Garrett and the Golden Bears.
Garrett wreaked havoc in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC). As a sophomore in 2018, he tallied a school-record 16.5 sacks in just 10 games. In 2019, he had 14 sacks in 11 games.
He also set the NCAA Division II record for career forced fumbles with 15, finished third in NCAA Division II history with 1.30 sacks per game, set the Concordia-St. Paul career record and finished 13th in Division II history & second in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) history with 36.5 sacks, per TheRams.com Garrett finished 14th in Division II football career history with 1.73 tackles for loss per game.
Garrett became the second Golden Bears player in program history to be drafted in the NFL Rams general manager Les Snead heaped high praise onto Garrett at the time he was drafted.
“A small-school kid who basically destroyed that league, but a fun player to watch,” Rams general manager Les Snead said of Garrett, per the Pioneer Press. “Has some initial juice that really gave him an edge in that league, and the sacks in the amount of games speak for themselves.”
He showed flashes of his potential in the preseason, but amid a crowded linebacker room in Los Angeles, was the odd man out.
Garrett now has another chance in the NFL, this time closer to his home, which was a significant factor in his journey to the league. At 6-foot-4 with blazing closing speed, Garrett is a raw prospect who could benefit from the highest level of coaching in the league after dominating in Division II.
“Garrett picks up speed on his way to the pocket and has a knack for swiping/dislodging the football. Against the run, he doesn’t have the size or technique to anchor the edge and work off blocks,” The Athletic’s Dane Brugler wrote in his 2021 scouting report. “Overall, Garrett will need to expand his pass rush arsenal vs. better competition, but his foot quickness, closing speed and college production are all above average.”
Garrett Hopes to Provide Stability to Family
In Jackson’s feature on Garrett’s winding road to the NFL, The Rams’ team writer revealed Garrett’s turbulent childhood, which included living in shelters, cars and bouncing between grandparents’ places and his parent’s separate houses.
When Garrett’s grandfather passed away due to cancer, he assumed the father-figure role in the household for his five younger siblings and his grandmother.
“We didn’t really have a father figure in our life that was there for us like our grandfather was, so Chris had to take over that role throughout high school and into college,” Darios Crawley-Reid, his brother, said. “I couldn’t ask for a better brother, than what Chris is to me.”
Garret’s wife, Mikayla, believes his role in his family is the most significant motivation in his career.
“I think a big part of his motivation just comes from his childhood, but also the fact that, more than anything, he always told me what he wanted was to be a dad, to be a husband, to have a family and be able to provide for them,” Mikayla told Jackson. “Also just achieving such a big goal, that’s a huge motivation right there. And, of course, giving back to his grandma and helping his family in whatever ways he can.”