The biggest day of the Browns' 2022 NFL Draft is one week away.
That day, of course, will be Day 2 of the draft. Andrew Berry and the Browns' front office brass will still pay attention to Round 1 selections, but will most likely be doing just that for the day after they traded their first-round pick in a deal for QB Deshaun Watson. Their focus will be on prospects that slip past Round 1 and are available on Day 2, where they'll submit their first selection of the draft at No. 44 overall.
Berry talked a bit about the Browns' draft approach and other team matters Friday at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Here are some of the top takeaways:
1. Browns 'unlikely' to move back into first round
The question of whether the Browns would attempt to move back into the first round has been asked ever since they shipped away their 2022 first-round pick for Watson.
Berry still hasn't entirely ruled the possibility out, but he did provide more of a definite response.
"I would say just candidly I think it's unlikely," he said, "but I don't want to say anything in absolutes because you just never know how situations arise."
Berry highlighted how he didn't expect the Browns to move up in the second round last year to acquire LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. 'JOK,' who was picked 52nd overall after the Browns traded up seven spots to draft him, was mentioned multiple times Friday as Berry discussed the unpredictability of the draft. The Browns considered picking him with their 26th pick of the draft last year and still managed to grab him 26 spots later.
The trade showed that the Browns won't hesitate to pounce on a prospect they truly want in Cleveland if the player is available far later than they expected. Cleveland is obviously in a different draft position this year, though, and appear more likely to simply wait and see what talented prospects are available when pick No. 44 rolls around.
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2. Browns have 'positional leanings' but won't rule out any position in draft
Berry has stated every draft season that the Browns don't key in on certain positions when they complete their draft board. That approach might seem tougher for the front office to follow now that the Browns have multiple positions flush with veterans and starting-caliber players, but Berry said that the approach is what's best for maintaining a strong long-term outlook for the roster.
"Because we are a bit more long-term focused when we get to the draft, we are probably a bit more flexible than maybe people perceive as we work through the board," he said.
That still doesn't mean the Browns will ignore positional needs when they're on the clock. The Browns drafted OT Jedrick Wills Jr. in 2020 when tackle appeared to be their biggest need, and they drafted CB Greg Newsome II last year when cornerback was among their biggest needs.
Both of those players, however, were among the best available of all positions. The Browns hold a deeper first selection this year and still seem likely to draft a defensive linemen or wide receiver, thus patching one of their top positional needs, but — as Berry alluded to — it might not be as big of a slam dunk.
It all depends on how the draft board falls in the 43 picks before the Browns.
"We certainly do have, call it, 'certain positional leanings,'" he said. "I will not necessarily disclose those specifics in this setting, but we are a little bit more long-term focused as opposed to short-term focused when we make selections when we are on the clock."
3. Berry appreciates Cooper's route-running abilities the most
The Browns moved quickly to acquire Amari Cooper at the beginning of the new league year because of how consistent he's been across seven NFL seasons — five of them ended with Cooper catching over 1,000 yards, and his eight touchdowns last season matched his career-high.
There's a lot to like about Cooper's game, and Berry has one particular aspect of it he appreciates the most.
"I think Amari is one of the best route runners in the NFL," he said. "It's not just like a particular route he can separate on, but just really the diversity of ways that he can get open. He has a really good feel for separating, whether it's laterally at the top of routes or even vertically. I think that's something that really stands out about his game. He has fantastic hands, as well. Catches the ball really well and has been productive for a long time in the NFL."
4. An interesting analysis on strength of WRs in draft class
One of Berry's most interesting quotes of the day came when he was asked about whether this receiver class is one of the deepest he's seen.
Berry didn't place a ranking on the class, but he did admit that receiver classes appear to be growing deeper every year due to the evolution of youth football and higher emphasis on flag football, where throwing and catching are the biggest skills that can be developed.
"I think over the last couple of years, you have seen a lot of young pass catchers come into the league and be successful," he said. "I do think that a big part of that is just kind of the evolution of not just college football but youth sports. I was talking to my wife (Brittan) last week because our boys are in a multi-sport clinic, and one of the things is flag football. I was telling her that, when I came up, it was never an option to have a formal flag football league. You are either in Pop Warner, if you are going to get in at the age of four or five. It's just so different now.
"I think that effect has really trickled into our game. That goes into high school, where when I was in high school, we were one of the highest passing teams, and we threw the ball maybe like 15-18 times a game. I think that's kind of cool. Now, you have guys who have come into the league who probably have had more proficiency throwing and catching the ball than maybe at any point recently within the sport."
5. Berry's been managing salary caps longer than initially believed
Earlier in the week, Berry's wife, Brittan tweeted about a discovery she made while they were with family over the holiday weekend.
Berry chuckled when the tweet was brought up and explained that, yes, he did manage salary caps for a make-believe league he and his brother created when they were younger.
"This is what I get for having my wife visit her in-laws on Easter weekend," he said with a laugh. "We got a Christmas gift one year – me and my brother – it was like a foosball table, but this was like a hockey table. We developed our own league and built out schedules, rosters and everything like that. Totally nerdy of me.
"Thank you, Brittan, for outing me on that."