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  • Writer's pictureJoey Jarzynka

Browns EVP & GM Andrew Berry Quotes 4/25/20


Opening statement:

“With the 2020 NFL Draft in the books, we are pleased that we feel like we were able to add a number of young, talented players to the roster this weekend who fit our offense and defensive schemes. We feel like we were able to address a number of needs across the roster on both sides of the ball, and then perhaps most importantly, we feel good about adding a number of individuals who embody the tough, smart and accountable culture that we are trying to build upon here in Cleveland. I want to point out a couple groups that have gotten us to this point in the weekend. Certainly, our pro and college scouting staffs, our research and strategy group, our coaches who have put in a ton of hours, our IT and video in terms of handling really unprecedented circumstances with this draft and then our contract management team, as well. It really has been a collaborative effort. To execute on our plan and vision for this draft, a lot of people have put in a lot of time to get us to this point. Lastly, before opening up to questions, I want to actually thank you guys all for your patience. I know it is a very long weekend for everybody who is involved in the draft, whether it is the club side or in the media. Certainly, appreciate your patience, particularly tonight, as we try to wrap up the undrafted free agent process.”

On the Browns TEs room and TE David Njoku’s status:

“In terms of the tight end situation, we feel very good about that room. We think it is very talented. We have a number of guys that that we think are and certainly with (TE) Harrison (Bryant) will be good NFL players. We said from the start, that it is a very tight end friendly and a tight end heavy system. Last year in Minnesota, (Head Coach) Kevin (Stefanski) as the OC in addition to running a lot of 12, one back, two tight end personnel and 21 two backs, one tight end, he also ran a lot of 13 with one back and three tight ends. It is a very tight end friendly system. To David in particular, our perspective remains the same. I have been pretty consistent this offseason in terms of we still have a ton of belief in David. He is very talented. Obviously, he was not on the field much last year, but he is a guy with outstanding physical tools, he has proven NFL production and we still think the future is very bright with him here. David has always been and continues to be in our plans, and we are going to continue to add competition all across the roster.”

On if the Browns will pick up Njoku’s fifth-year option:

“Kind of like at the combine. I would not comment on any of those decisions in this context, but again, we see David as part of our long-term plans.”

On if the Browns plan is to bring back DE Olivier Vernon, given the team did not draft a DE:

“This is probably another one of those questions where we are pretty much in the same place. Olivier is a good football player, and we like having good football players on the roster. He is a talented defensive end. He is here and will continue to be here.”

On his collaboration with Stefanski and how they played off each other in their first draft together:

“I love working with Kevin, just period. His insight, his calmness and his intelligence, it really does not matter the situation that we are dealing with. Certainly, his presence is more than appreciated over the course of the last few days going through the draft. It is not just his insight with how players married a scheme or his own individual evaluations, but he is also such a great thought  partner in terms of strategy, not just Xs and Os but things we do on the personnel side or as we are thinking through things on the clock. I really could not ask for a better partner really in any situation. I am really pleased with how our first draft has gone as a group.”

On if the new CBA rules and full guarantees for fifth-year options complicates the decision on Njoku’s fifth-year option:

“Not at all. It doesn’t complicate it at all, probably on one technicality that the full guarantee that applies to the 2018 draft class and not necessarily the 2017 draft class. Even if it was for Njoku’s class, it wouldn’t complicate the decision at all.”

On dealing with the differences of the virtual draft and if members of the Browns still ‘pounded the table’ to advocate for players:

“I think what you are getting at is soliciting input, and that part was very smooth. We try and organize a process where a lot of those more difficult discussions and thoughts are expressed beforehand so when we get to the draft and we get on the clock, it is more about execution. You can’t plan for all those situations because the board may fall differently. I can assure you we have a very strongly opinionated group, which is a good thing because they push me, they push me on my own assumptions and they are not afraid to express when they disagree, and everyone does it at the proper times. We have so many different perspectives, whether it is college scouting, pro scouting, research and strategy or coaching, and that is really, really healthy. We were at no shortage of ideas and had the right perspectives in the room at the right time. That is one of the things I’m probably most proud of from this weekend.”

On if the members of the team pushed him frequently on players:

“They always pushed me frequently, but then I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

On how important it was to select players from winning programs in college that reached the playoffs, particularly given the Browns don’t have many players with NFL postseason experience:

“This may be perhaps a little bit of an unpopular take, but I wasn’t focused on that as much because football really is the consummate team sport. Just because someone was on a winning team doesn’t necessarily automatically mean they have the right make-up for your program, just like someone who may have been in a program that wasn’t as talented or didn’t win as many games doesn’t mean that they are not the right fit for your team. We really tried to look at each of these players individually and how they operated in their college environments with things that they could control. We feel good about the people that we brought into the building, for sure.”

On the Browns’ free agency signings and how that impacted the team’s draft:

“You do try and marry both in terms of building your roster. Free agency I do think allowed us to remain flexible within the draft. It allowed us to add talent to some specific spots on the roster so we do think that it served as a pretty good foundation leading into this weekend. Taking them both together, we do like where we sit here on April 25th, but that being said, we do have four or five months until our first game. The offseason and our personnel cycle, it doesn’t just end tonight. There is still plenty of work to be done on the roster. There are still going to be opportunities over the next several months, and we will continue to explore those.”

On the significance of information Browns personnel gained during the Senior Bowl and all-star games, given the different offseason schedule:

“To be honest, I think it was about equally as vital. The Senior Bowl and the all-star game, circuit that is a big piece of what we will do as a scouting staff. At the same time, even though guys can’t necessarily come onsite, we still were able to have very many touchpoints, whether it was no different than how you and I are talking right now. The workout piece, that was perhaps a little bit more challenging if a guy is hurt, you want to see him at a different position or you want to see something more specific. Fortunately, we did still have the combine, and at the end of the day, there is plenty of film from any individual’s fall over the past few years and that ultimately weighs the most.”

On if Browns draft selections will be able to step in immediately and contribute:

“I have been humbled enough over my NFL career to realize that you really don’t know. There are going to be guys that surprise us likely in both directions because each of these guys are individuals entering the NFL for the first time. That doesn’t just mean acclimating to NFL competition, but a new organization, a new city and a totally new dynamic than where they were in college. That process is challenging for a lot of young players, but we are confident that we have a coaching staff that is going to work with these guys and we are confident that we are going to create the right environment with our support staff and give these guys the best chance to hit the ground running but also being humble enough to realize that each player matures differently in the NFL.”

On C Nick Harris’ role with the team now and long term, given the team extended C JC Tretter’s contract recently:

“We view Nick as another good young player that we had the opportunity to acquire at that point in the draft. We do view his skillset as a little bit more focused at center, and I think he is a perfect scheme fit for what we want to do with our offense because of his movement skills, athleticism and intelligence. Obviously, we love JC. He is our starter. He is a proven player, a proven veteran at the position for a number of years. Nick will learn a lot from him, as well as a number of the veterans that we have in that position group.”

On if the Browns were ever tempted to trade up during the draft:

“There were a few situations where we considered it. I know we moved down the board more often this weekend than up the board. Longer term, that is a little bit more aligned with our philosophy, but it also does not mean that we won’t be up to [trading up in the draft] because there are situations where it does make sense. We were fortunate that the board fell in our favor in a lot of key spots, but that will not be the case every year.”

On trading back and acquiring players the team wanted in S Grant Delpit and DT Jordan Elliott:

“We were fortunate that we had a number of players or targeted guys that we were able to trade down a few spots and still able acquire them while picking up extra draft capital.”

On how to accelerate continuity among the staff to assist players’ development with new personnel and coaching groups:

“I don’t know that we can accelerate continuity. That is going to take time, and I am sure we are going to have our hiccups. One thing before I came on to talk to you guys, I expressed to our coaches, our scouts, research group, contract management and our support staff, I have an immense sense of pride for how this group has come together in call it 90 days amid the circumstances this spring. It has been remarkable. It is a credit to all of the people who have adjusted across different roles because we would not be anywhere close to where we needed to be without those contributions. That group as a whole just doesn’t get enough credit, and they really should.”

On if the league has provided guidance for when the rules in place due to the pandemic may be relaxed or the timeline for a decision on when teams can return to their facilities:

“We have not done anything specific yet. We are hopeful we will get some movement next month, but until we do, we will roll with the punches and we will be as prepared as we can possibly be until circumstances are resolved and return to normal.”

On the potential future of a virtual draft format, particularly given the opportunity for team staff to spend time with their families and share that with NFL fans:

“I think that is an interesting question. I was actually talking about that with my wife last night. She was actually making a similar comment that it was actually pretty cool because it brings perhaps more of a human element to a lot of the key people in this weekend. I do not know that this will be the standard operating protocol. That is really not my decision to make. I think everybody can appreciate that this was certainly a unique draft, but there were some pretty cool things that came out of the weekend, as well.”

On providing an example for player evaluation and selection when considering his fit to the team’s culture and scheme rather than simply best player available from a talent standpoint:

“When we get to the point where we are actually making player selections, it is not about determining ‘OK, does this guy fit now?’ When our staffs come out in the fall, we build our board and massage our board with our team in mind and with fit within our offensive and defensive systems in mind. Really, the draft process to some degree becomes like a 15-month elimination process because you may start with a pool of a couple thousand seniors across college football, and you whittle your board not just on talent but it could be fit within the offensive and defensive systems, character, mental or you name it. You get to a point where, at least in our case, where we would have a board with about 140 players that we thought appropriately fit what we were looking for within the Browns organization – talent, scheme fit, character, mental or you name it. That is really baked in before we get to the weekend when we are selecting players. We are selecting from a menu, so to speak, of players that we think would be good Cleveland Browns.”

On selecting WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, his upside and why he was available in the sixth round despite his talent:

“I do think that Donovan is a talented young player. He has good size. He is athletic, strong and just has a really well-rounded physical skillset. He does have some return ability, and we think he has some flexibility to play outside and inside. I do think that this was a pretty deep receiver class. I do think there are a number of players that probably really from first round down that fell in spots that in a given year they may have gone a little bit higher. In terms of his ceiling and upside and where we expect him to be, I am not going to speculate on that. We do think he is a very talented individual. At the same time, he is going to have to put the work in, just like all these guys. They are going to have to earn their playing time and ultimately prove it on the field. Certainly, what he did in college has gotten him to this point, but all of these guys are going to have to take a step forward to make sure that they are capitalizing on their potential.”

On if he remembers his mindset during the 2018 season when the Browns were playing Baltimore after a late season push:

“I do not want to mislead you, I do not know if that really resonates with me. I do remember anxiety during the game because we were driving down at the last minute hopefully for a go-ahead score, but it did not quite work out and we had a turnover at the end of the game. That is pretty natural for any close game. I do not know that it had any greater significance or meaning to me at the time because you really do try and isolate those moments.”

On referring to the 2018 as the Browns look to restore a similar energy from the second half of that season and how the team’s free agency and draft acquisitions can look to return to that excitement:

“We are excited about what we have done so far this spring. We like the guys that we have added in free agency. We like the guys that we have traded for. We like the guys that we have added in the draft. We are also not naive that we still have work to do and we still have several months until we are playing, which gives us several months to continue to improve the roster. That all being said, we are certainly hopeful and optimistic with the individuals that we have added to the team. We also know it all has to play out in the fall. We think that we have the right guys and the right players where we are optimistic that that will happen, but it does have to play itself out. We have a lot of hard work on the field to do before that comes to fruition.”

On how signing undrafted free agents proceeded in a different environment after the virtual draft:

“It is probably no different than being in the draft. A lot of the undrafted free agent process occurs on the phone, where after the draft we are on the phone with the players’ agents or we are doing a little recruiting with the actual player. Where it is different is if we are in the facilities and everyone is in the same building, everyone is generally in the same hallway with our scouts and coaches. Here, we just did it through Microsoft Teams. That was really the biggest difference. We had a pretty smooth and organized process. It does create some more challenges because you do have a big group that is trying to communicate over a virtual platform, but it really didn’t slow us down that much and we feel really good coming out of the process.”

On drafting C Nick Harris, who also played G at Washington, and the Browns’ overall plans at RG:

“We do have a number of interior players that we will cross-train. Nick’s primary home has been at the center throughout his college career. That doesn’t mean that he is not going to take some guard snaps, but we have a couple of young players – whether it’s Nick, (G) Wyatt Teller, (G) Drew Forbes or we signed (C) Evan Brown recently – and a number of guys who have played both center and guard so it should be good competition in that spot.”

On the Browns restructuring T Chris Hubbard’s contract:

“Chris is another valuable veteran on the offensive line, a guy who has been very versatile over the course of his career. He has played basically every position up and down the line but center. He has done that in games. Obviously, over the past two years here, he has played predominantly right tackle. Versatile, experienced veteran O linemen are valuable. There are 162 starters in the league, and every year, you get to August and teams are calling, ‘Hey, do you know where I can find another tackle? Do you know where I can find another O lineman?’ Chris is going to be a valuable part of the team.”

On areas the Browns still need to address on the roster:

“We still need to target everywhere in terms of talent. I know that is probably not the response you were looking for, but it truly has to be the mindset. The more talent we can add to the roster, the better chance we have to win and the better chance that our coaches have to be able to run their systems and schemes. We are going to focus everywhere. We are going to continue to focus everywhere.”

On if there is a position group of note that the Browns need to add players in order to be ready for training camp and the season:

“It will be continuous improvement everywhere we can find it.”

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