Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry:
"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."
Assistant Director of Scouting Glenn Cook:
On the Browns selecting TE Harrison Bryant:
"Harrison really impressed us throughout the spring, starting at the Senior Bowl, working through the Combine and up to some of the post-combine virtual stuff we did. He is a really blue-collar young man. His work ethic is great. He is going to bring really good leadership. As a football player, his pass-catching ability is probably what stands out the most. You will probably hear that a lot, but he is an athletic, natural sure-handed guy, really tough and competitive after the catch. It got to the point where we were staring at the board and you kind of couldn't ignore the fact that he was still up there."
On why Bryant was available at the time, given his college numbers:
"I can't really speak for the rest of the league. It could be a level of competition or questions about if he could produce at the same level in the NFL. We really just thought his skillset and adding that talent to the room fit for us, especially at that spot. We thought it was a pretty good pick."
On if this year's college all-star games became more important due to the impact of COVID-19, particularly for Day 3 selections:
"I think we really push our guys to hone in at the at the all-star games, not because we knew this situation would come up but because you have much more access to the players, both on and off the field, that you can garner a lot of really valuable information. Between the ability to see them throughout the week in different meeting settings or just across different exposures and then definitely competing on the field, you can you can glean a lot from that week-long experience."
On differences evaluating skill players on offense and defense and their skillsets as the NFL game has evolved:
"I think that those positions, at the end of the day, it is really the production on the ball. Guys get in positions in unique ways. Some of the bigger corners use their size and instincts, and some of the guys with maybe less size use more athletic traits in quickness and speed. At the end of the day, it is producing on the ball. As a receiver, for me, the price of admission is catching the football. If you can catch the football, whether it is in contested situations or underneath and making things happen after the catch, those are really the things that we look for. Really, production is key. Being able to produce in whatever manner you can consistently is really the calling card for those two positions."
On evaluating a player like Bryant from a program that faced a handful of major college programs but also played smaller schools:
"It is a fair question. I think you really just have to hone in on the skillset. I think that is one of the things that we really liked about Harrison is from our coaching staff and our scouts, they both really appreciated his ability to get open in a multitude of ways. He is just pretty consistent at catching the football. He struggled a little bit early on this season, which was a bit uncharacteristic, but across his lifespan in college, catching the football is something that he did really well. We kind of expect him to carry that over. That is how we reviewed him and why we thought this was a good pick."
On the personnel department's process this year at all-star games when the Browns had not yet hired Head Coach Kevin Stefanski and Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry:
"I think our group did a really good job of coming together and really just using some of the experienced guys that we did have in our group to help direct us in that time. We kind of stayed the course. We had somewhat of a layout written already in terms of assignments and responsibilities. We kind of just stuck to that and married that with AB's philosophy and planning when he came in. It worked out pretty well. It didn't throw us off too much. Obviously, you like to have your group in place, but I think we did a really good job of adjusting."
On the significance of Stefanski's use of tight ends in the offensive system when evaluating players:
"I don't think it hurts to make the head coach happy. He has a strong affinity for that position. I just think with this selection, like I said earlier, he just kind of stuck out on our board based on where we had him. Obviously, we want to add talent to the roster, add competition and guys that can produce in the passing game. He kind of checked off a significant number of boxes. That is why it worked out the way it did."
The Browns have selected Harrison Bryant in the 2020 NFL Draft.
On if Bryant had games against major college programs in particular that stood out to the team:
"No, not necessarily. I think everyone will kind of lock in on Ohio State, but we try not to take competition into too much consideration. It definitely is a factor, but he played at a major D-I school. The kid was really, really productive. Like I said just across all his exposure, you really couldn't poke too many holes in the things that he does really well."
On Bryant's character and leadership as a captain at Florida Atlantic:
"He is high character, blue collar and has a really strong work ethic. He is not going to say much, but you will feel his work on the field. He is just going to be a great addition from that piece, as well, just to add a lot of professionalism early on coming into the building. We are really excited about that piece of it as well."
On if it was more difficult to evaluate players from smaller schools this year, given the absence of individual workouts and other opportunities during a normal offseason:
"It was, but I will say this is probably one of the more fun times for the pure scout. It is one of those moments where you kind of just have to rely on the tape and leverage that as much as you can. We really dug in as much as possible and inserted a lot of cross-check situations and parameters to get us more comfortable with some of those smaller school guys. Also, I think with what we are using now -- Zoom, (Microsoft) Teams, WebX and all the technology – we really leveraged that to its maximum extent to get as much access and exposure to all these players. Regardless of where they are now, every 18-22 year old has an iPhone or some type of device so that was helpful."
On the last time he looked at this much film of a player:
"I would say coming in as a scouting assistant, you probably do get a lot of the leg work of the smaller schools and really digging on that tape. I wouldn't say we watched any more tape. To a degree, it could become a little bit of an issue if you second guess yourself too much. I think we did our due diligence. We stuck to our schedule as much as possible in terms of the phases that we went through. You had a few more weeks or time here and there to say 'Oh, let me take just one extra look at this particular player,' but I wouldn't say I watched a ton more film."
On Bryant's transition from OL to TE:
"Just coming out of high school, sometimes there are unique transitions. He kind of came into college at 215 and he has worked his way up to about 235-240. I think he filled out maybe a little bit and maybe a late bloomer physically, but he transitioned pretty well to the position, if you ask me."
On how selecting Bryant impacts other TEs on the Browns roster like TE David Njoku and if the team needs an abundance of TEs in this offensive system:
"I don't think we can have enough good players, first and foremost, especially at that position with some of the packages and sets that we are going to use in Kevin's offense. This isn't any indication on Njoku's future, (TE) Stephen (Carlson) or anyone else. I think you just continue to try to add good players in the right spot, add competition and see how it works out. We are still pretty optimistic about Njoku's future and like the things that Carlson did, but we think any type of competition and anything that can help our roster get better, we are going to take a look into it."
Scout Adam Al-Khayyal:
On C Nick Harris:
"We are really excited to add Nick to the team. There is a really interesting story with him. He is a guy who came into Washington, probably you could say under recruited, went to one of the premier programs in the PAC-12 and really in the nation and all he did was work his way into the starting lineup as a true freshman and then start his final three years – one at guard and two at center. He is a guy who has had a really productive career and adds some good depth to the roster and a chance to compete."
On if the team sees Harris as more of a C or G and if versatility helped make him appealing:
"I think for Nick, center is probably going to be where he starts, I would imagine, and really where he shined at Washington, but he has played at multiple spots. Certainly, I think his lack of height – he is only 6-1 – might have caused some people to think that maybe he can't play in multiple spots, but he has done it on the biggest stage. As a true freshman, he was playing guard against Alabama in the CFP playoffs and holding his own against guys who have gone on to be productive NFL players. This guy certainly adds ability and depth to the roster."
On Harris' character:
"I think he fits that smart, tough accountable mantra that (Head Coach) Kevin (Stefanski) and (Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager) Andrew (Berry) have been hitting on throughout this process. He is a guy who came in and earned his way every step of the way. He did not redshirt as a freshman. They pulled his redshirt because they couldn't keep them off the field really. He is a guy who really worked his way and worked for everything he has. He came in and was in the 270s as a true freshman. He is up in the 300 range now. He has done a lot throughout the course of his career to improve every step of the way every year."
On attributes for a strong interior OL and why Harris is a fit for the Browns offense:
"Probably it varies when you are talking scheme to scheme, but certainly, for what we are trying to do in a wide zone system, Nick is a guy with really good feet, good quickness and really good range in terms of getting out in space and getting to the second level. A guy who really there is not a block he doesn't think he can make, and quite often, he makes them. He played on a line that had some other highly talented prospects so people have been paying attention to this line for a few years. Every game, he makes a play or two or a block or two where you kind of sit up in your chair and take notice, which usually offensive linemen are guys that you are not noticing them unless they do something wrong in some instances, and he is a guy who he would do things right and make you take notice of it."
On selecting players from the Senior Bowl and how Harris' participation contributed to the Browns' evaluation:
"In general, the opportunity to go to the Senior Bowl is just another feather in your cap and another chance to go down and compete at a high level. For Nick, he is a guy who competed against the best of the best throughout his career. He went against Auburn, who has some really good defensive linemen, last year in their opener. He went against Alabama. He went against the best teams in the PAC-12. He was not a guy who necessarily you needed to see at the Senior Bowl to see him go against the top competition, but whenever you get a chance to go to the Senior Bowl and compete, that always helps."
On Harris' height potentially impacting his draft status and how much that comes into consideration when determining his position:
"Honestly, wherever he ends up is going to be a coaching decision, but from the perspective of the line, it is not a competition about who is taller; it is about a leverage battle. For Nick, he plays with great leverage and he has some natural leverage. He really is a tough guy to get around because of his combination of leverage, quickness and athleticism. Wherever he ends up, I think for him, the height is less of an issue. Certainly, he also has length in his arms so it is not as if he doesn't have an ability to play with extension or leverage."
On Harris' projected role with the Browns, given their current OL, and if Harris is a long-term option or someone who can help create competition with C JC Tretter:
"For all these guys, it is a chance for them to come in and compete and add depth to the roster. Where they ultimately end up is to be determined by them and their performance. All the guys we bring in, it is an opportunity for them to be on the Cleveland Browns. From here, what they make of it is really going to be determined by them and their performance. Certainly, he is a guy who we thought had a really good fit for our scheme and a nice skillset and ability to come in and add depth and value."
The Browns have selected Nick Harris in the 2020 NFL Draft.
On Harris winning Washington's most inspirational player award and what led to that achievement:
"For Nick, it is really just the whole person. He is a guy that everybody in the program speaks highly of. Usually when we go to these all-star games, we get a chance to interact with many of the teammates of players at each school so you go and you talk to the guys from Washington and you say, 'Hey, who is one guy that you would like to bring with you to the next level?' A lot of them said Nick Harris. He was a team captain. For him, I think it was more the person and the way he went about his business every day competing and the energy and passion he brought to the field every day. You go out to practice, you can hear him and you can feel his energy. He is certainly a guy that inspired his teammates that, I'm sure, in a lot of ways and not just with his on-field performance."
On Harris being a vocal leader and if that was more based on encouragement or holding guys accountable:
"He was a team captain, and when you talk to people around the program, they say he is one of the best leaders they have. I think it is sort of a combination of everything. I think he really does bring a lot to the team and for them as a program. He was a guy that played a lot, and he did it with his actions, but he also did it with his words."
On the importance of pre-draft interviews and preparation prior to the combine and all-star games:
"It probably varies from player to player. For a guy like Nick who started for three-plus years, he has been on the radar for a while, you have heard about him for a while and you have been watching him for a while. There are other guys who may be later in the process that pop up or they started for one year or only had one year of production. Person to person and player to player, there is some variance, but for him, he is a guy that we have been paying attention to for a while – certainly, I have. The rest of the process after the season ends is just to find out more but not necessarily change a whole lot about what you think."
On the impact high school coach Pat Harlow had on Nick Harris, given Harlow's NFL career:
"I have not talked to him about his high school coach in particular, but I think certainly that kind of instruction at a younger age helps. He is definitely somebody who came in ready to compete and to produce, and he did so coming into the PAC-12 at 270 pounds and working his way into the starting lineup. He definitely was ready early and has continued to improve throughout his career."
On if the Browns were surprised Harris was available when Cleveland selected him:
"I will probably leave the board discussion to AB (Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry), but certainly, pleased that he was there. I have gotten a few texts from guys on the west coast excited and congratulating about the pick because he was a guy that quite frankly a lot of people did like. We are excited to have him."
Scout Colton Chapple:
On the Browns selecting WR Donovan Peoples-Jones:
"We ended going receiver with the final pick in the 2020 draft, pick No. 187 with Donovan Peoples-Jones, wide receiver out of Michigan. A local, Detroit, Michigan kid. He was a very highly recruited player coming out of a very successful high school program at Cass Tech. He has played a lot of positions for [Michigan] in terms of wide receiver, slot and punt returner. He was a guy that we saw after looking at him for three years – he is an early declared junior – that was exceptionally athletic and a very talented individual. He ended up winning the offensive skill player of the year for Michigan in 2018. He played immediately as a returner. This is a guy we really like in terms of the overall size, his speed and his athleticism to bring to our unit and contribute in whatever manner our coaches deem fit for him."
On Peoples-Jones' athleticism, given he has been rated highly among his peers in the category since high school, and that not necessarily matching the expectations and production in college:
"I think a little bit of it with the high school recruiting process is unfair just because of the unrealistic expectations that these prospects sometimes have and things that really are not in their control. (Peoples-Jones is) a guy who is over six feet, ran 4.48 at the combine and jumped a 44-inch vertical. This guy has those natural gifts of speed, explosiveness and quickness, and you can see that in his route running and you can see that when you have the ball in his hands as returner. I think it is unfair to judge a guy just based squarely on production just because there are a lot of factors that he can't control. What we saw on tape is when he did have his opportunities, he made the most of it, and he was a very dynamic player once the offense was able to get him to ball quickly or in some of his punt returns earlier as a young kid at Michigan."
On if Peoples-Jones' athletic skills and if some of those traits compare to some WRs taken higher than him:
"I would agree with some of that because you saw the traits on display at the combine and you saw some of his numbers being in the top of his class at the combine. I think you really hit it on the head just in terms of being a very wide receiver heavy, very deep draft. We still believe we got a very high-caliber player this late in the draft so that really does excite us moving forward. I think it is unfair to both Donovan and some of the other players that were taken before him to compare based off purely athletic traits. There are so many different pieces to the puzzle when you talk about evaluating a player and then valuing him at a certain point in the draft. This is a guy who has come in and produced when he has the ball in his hands. He has been able to demonstrate and make the most of the opportunities that were given to him, and that is something really stood out to us when we watched him on the field."
On areas where Peoples-Jones can continue to develop to be successful in the NFL:
"For me personally, I think the adjustment from college receiver to NFL receiver is a very wide gap. It kind of differs on who you talk to. I think with Donovan, in particular, we would like to see a little bit more consistency in his hands. He makes some extremely acrobatic athletic catches. He kind of makes the hard ones look easy, and then sometimes he makes the easy ones look hard. I think it is more just cleaning that up and just getting a more consistent hands-catcher out of him is an area I think that would benefit both him and our team moving forward."
On if team's consider a player's high school recruiting process and ratings when evaluating players for the NFL:
"I would say we don't go back that far in terms of adjusting how we value the player or where we see him on our board. It is more just a piece of the puzzle. We love to see guys who were multiple-sport athletes that played track or ran or played basketball or baseball plus football because you do see a lot of different traits that can kind of carry over between multiple different sports. I wouldn't say it is like, 'Oh, we took this guy because he's a five star kid or he was a No. 1 receiver coming out of Michigan as a prep player.' I think it is more so another feather in his cap [to consider] over a long time and more so just the three years he spent in Michigan that he has been a very dynamic and a very exciting player to watch since he really has stepped on the football field."
On if this year's deep WR class made it more challenging to rank the position on the team's board:
"With this draft in particular, you saw a lot of very talented players. I can't remember which analyst made a really good point: some guys are a slot receiver only – the small, very dynamic, a lot of quickness. Other ones are the big jump ball catchers. Then, you have sort of the all-around skillsets. I think with this draft in particular, you just had a lot of guys who sort of went into their own categories, but then from each category, there were very productive or very high-level or high-floor players or a guy that can come in and compete immediately. It does make it a little bit difficult when you try to compare across the top players at the position all the way through the fifth, sixth and seventh round. We try and sort of look at each player for what they do best and how we put them in a position to do that. I think with Donovan in particular, we saw a guy that does have some explosiveness and does have the run-after-catch ability, plus his added punt return production was really sort of a very attractive skillset that made us want to go ahead and pull the trigger on him in today's draft."
On if there are additional traits People-Jones has in addition to his size and athleticism that make him a fit for the Browns offense:
"Yeah. I do not want to speak for the rest of the scouts, but it is something we are continuing to learn just with not being able to be in the building with our coaches and not being able to really see them interact with our players. For our defensive scheme, we did a lot of watching the San Francisco cutups that our coaches have made. Now, with the offense, we are transitioning toward watching old Vikings tape to figure out what type of player Coach (Stefanski) wants to work with. I think you have kind of seen us move in that direction. At the receiver position, speed is paramount. That is one of the most important attributes that we like to have at the position. A very close second is just natural football intelligence because what we ask of our guys is a lot more than what they were asked to do in college in terms of conceptually route adjustments, multiple alignments, shifts, motions and some stuff we have picked up on watching the Vikings old 2019 tape. It has been a learning curve for all of us, but with each one of our picks, the common theme you can kind of see is we want smart players, we want tough players and we want accountable players. Within each position group, you have a certain number of position specifics or physical tools that do come into play when we are comparing Player A to Player B."
On if there is potential value in Peoples-Junes being humbled by dropping in the draft and how he may respond to it:
"You do see it sometimes with guys who are either disappointed where they get drafted or sort of let down based off of expectations. I think it is a good thing to have high expectations because then you hold yourself to a higher standard and you work your butt off to reach those expectations. If anything, I do see it kind of light a fire under a lot of these college prospects because everybody is going to have an adjustment period once they do come into an NFL building and start practicing with NFL players. I do not want to say it is a good thing [for him that] he was drafted in the sixth round where we took him, but we see a guy that we got a very, very good value pick and a guy who we see some of his best football might actually be ahead of him based off his traits and how he fits into our scheme."
On if special teams coordinator Mike Priefer provided feedback on Peoples-Jones as a returner:
"Coach Priefer met with Donovan at the combine. I don't want to speak for him on what his thoughts were. I'm sure we will get that at some point. He is a guy that has been very productive. He was a Freshman All-American as a punt returner so he does have that big play ability. That is almost another added bonus to what he will be able to provide for us in the offensive passing game. It helps his value when it comes to building a roster, especially when it comes to who are we going to keep up on the active for game day and where do we see him fitting – is he going to play outside or is he going to play inside? That is more of a question for Coach Priefer, (pass game coordinator/wide receivers) Coach (Chad) O'Shea and Coach Stefanski to figure out. Whenever you do have an added skill set – whether it is a returner or whether it is a cover player on special teams – where you can help the team not only on the offensive or defensive side of the ball but you can help in the special teams game, that definitely adds value to the pick and to your roster position."
On if selecting a WR in the sixth round can sometimes be based on athleticism and taking a shot on upside and potential:
"There is a little bit of that. I have seen this a lot in Day 3 of the draft where there is a lot more target shooting in terms of teams' boards differ on Day because it is 'Is he a good fit for our scheme? What about our need at the position?' versus 'This guy is a really good athlete, but he needs some development or he needs to sort of reach his ceiling.' That certainly attracted us to it, but don't get me wrong, we think Donovan is still a very good receiver and think he is a very good player It is more so an added bonus that he does have great size, he does have great speed and he does have great athleticism. That is a guy that excites you because you can get him in our coaching staffs hands, and they can sort of mold him, coach him up and develop him. When you hit on a guy like that, obviously, you give yourself a pat on the back, but I think it is a credit to both our coaching and scouting staffs for doing their homework and making sure we took the time to see what he does well and how we put him in a position to do that with our team?"
Head Coach Kevin Stefanski:
"I know the draft is ongoing. We do not have any picks in the seventh round so it looks like we are done picking. I really was pleased with how these last three days have gone. This is the culmination of a lot of hard work. First, I will point out the work of our scouts. Those road scouts, wish I could have been with them this weekend, but this is definitely the fruits of their labor. We went armed with a ton of information and that is to their credit. The whole personnel group and the coaching staff, it takes a lot of people to put this thing together. I think armed with all that information, I think we have some guys that we are excited to bring into our building. I think we got better on both sides of the ball, and I think we added some guys that we are looking forward to developing. I do not think any of the guys we added are finished products. That is the fun part in getting to work with them. Obviously, that will start virtually and remotely and then eventually that will turn into being hands on with them, God willingly sooner rather than later. Pleased with how it went. You can never predict it, but I thought the plan was sound. Kudos to (Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager) Andrew Berry and his crew."
On if he received advice from his dad, Detroit Pistons Senior Advisor of Basketball Operations Ed Stefanski this weekend:
"I would say a lot of free advice and a lot of feedback (laughter). He loves athletes. There were players that he was sending me links to their Pro Day or links to their highlight tape. He wants very badly to be on staff with the Browns. Unfortunately, we do not have a spot for him (laughter). I did talk to him a bunch this week. The draft, whether NFL or NBA, that is the fun part. He certainly loves the NBA Draft, and I can tell you he enjoyed watching his Browns this weekend."
On if the Browns addressed what they desired in the draft and if there were any 'stones left unturned' in improving the roster this weekend:
"I think you are always looking to improve the roster. Certainly, you look at some of the spots that we said we wanted to get younger and we wanted to bring in some competition at some of these positions so we did that. At the same time, you never know how the board is going to turn out and you may take a guy that you never thought would be there at that given moment. Really at the end of the day, if you trust the board, you are usually right. There is a reason our scouts and coaches work this hard. There is a reason we put this board together. I think to the group's credit, we really stuck to that board."
On drafting TE Harrison Bryant and if the TE room is becoming overpopulated:
"To the second part, I do not think so. I really think there is a way to get all these guys on the field – sometimes at the same time and sometimes not. I just think there is versatility in that position. I think being able to move guys around the formation is a very big deal. I think keeping teams in base defense can be helpful at times. Not every game but sometimes you go into a game and you like to keep them in their base scheme with three linebackers on the field and keep them out of their nickel sub-packages, which can a lot of times bring some exotic pressures. There is some thought to that. Also, just the value of the pick. We think this kid is a pretty good football player. He was available at a spot that we thought it was worth taking him. It is our job – my job and our coaches job – to make it work with the guys we have. The more we have in the room, the merrier."
On if the Browns' collaboration and being on the same page reflect in how selections fit the team's scheme:
"Am I allowed to mention it again (laughter)? I do not know if it is some mystery, but I think Andrew and I see this thing very similarly. When we are talking about this draft, we have some cultural non-negotiables and then we have some schematic non-negotiables. I think the coaches and scouts did a nice job of identifying the guys that fit those two things. Andrew and I had some great discussion throughout the spring and throughout the last couple days, along with our group on our call. It was a collaborative effort, but I would not call it anything surprising. We all knew the work that was put into this. We all knew kind of where we stood on a bunch of issues. I think that has occurred from having conversations the last couple of months."
On the draft ultimately needing to be a collaborative process but that not necessarily occurring with every organization:
"I do not know. I know how we do it. I will tell you, we do not agree on everything. There are always some good conversations, and they have occurred even in the last couple days. We encourage pushback from each other. We do not want a bunch of 'yes men.' I do not want a bunch of 'yes men' on our coaching staff. The best offensive staffs I have been part of push back on each other and they challenge each other. That is kind of the spirit in which we are doing this thing."
On the Browns' most significant big-picture accomplishment from the draft, Berry during his first draft as GM and what he may have learned about Berry during the process:
"Big picture, probably need a couple of days to think about that. Every game, you go in with a gameplan, and then you get hit with something and you have to adapt – an injury happens and you have to adjust. I think we went into this draft with a similar gameplan and idea. I can tell you, there were times when there were guys on the board and we did not think they would be there or there were times you were thinking of trading up and it did not work or you wanted to trade back and it did not work. I was really impressed with how Andrew was able to navigate these last three days because it can be stressful, as you can all imagine. It is more stressful than gameday, I told him. I think he did a great job. I think he is built for this. He has the right demeanor. He has the right amount of intelligence. He could not get into Penn, but again, not going to hold it against him (laughter). I was very impressed with how he operated. He knew when to have everybody be very quiet, and he knew when to take in input. He looked like a seasoned vet to me."
On WR Donovan Peoples-Jones's anticipated role with the Browns:
"With Donovan, we got a player that has played outside and inside. I think there is versatility with this player in terms of where you can play him in the formation. Having return ability and having a history in the return game helps. I do think he has the physical skillset to be a special teamer. There is a lot this kid can do. Then, it is going to be a matter of him showing it to us. That is the exciting part where I can get him with (pass game coordinator/wide receivers coach) Chad O'Shea, who has a lot of history with a bunch of different types of wide receivers. With Donovan, his numbers do jump off the page at you, and we all know that. It is our job and his job to get everything we can out of him if we want to get the best version of Donovan Peoples-Jones. I recognize I do not want to say something too nice about a Michigan Wolverine (laughter).
On how the team's offense has been transformed with selections this weekend:
"In terms of the offense, I just go back to when we first got together back in January and we talked about the type of person and the type of people we were going to add to this thing. I think we have been consistent in how we have done that. Just because we added players guarantees us really nothing. That is where the work comes in right now with the coaches and the players in this virtual offseason. We have a ways to go. We are definitely not where we want to be, but I am appreciative of the group we have been able to put together to this point."
On if he talked to offensive line coach Bill Callahan about C Nick Harris and the possibility of Harris playing G:
"Yes, I have talked to coach Callahan about all these guys. We do think there is some position flexibility with Nick. He is a talented player. There is a very obvious schematic fit with his movement skills, He is a tough, tough player and plays through the whistle and his athleticism is on display. I really like the make-up of the person. Once we get our hands on him and teach him this system, we will see exactly where he fits, whether it be center or guard."
On the marriage of analytics and football during the Browns' draft process:
"The team I came from, the Vikings, they use analytics. I think all 32, I'm assuming, use it. How they use it varies. Where in the process of the evaluation they use it varies. We have our own way of doing it. I will tell you this: we make sure that it is an integrated approach. It is never one thing. It is a tool just like obviously the evaluations by the scouts, and what you see on tape is still the precedent. Certainly, we use it in the integrated approach to how we do things. I know we have our way, and I will just tell you all 32 are to some degree using all the information you can, which makes sense to me. If you are making decisions like this, you want really to have all the information at your fingertips."
On if there were intense draft discussions where someone may have been 'pounding the table' for a player, even during a virtual draft:
"There were, and I think what happened was you would be 10 picks away and we would talk about the names of the players we were thinking about – 'Alright, there are four players we are thinking about' – and open it up for discussion and go to bat for a guy. Those are the fun discussions. You can make a lot of headway there when you do that and you make sure everybody is comfortable sharing their opinions. I can promise you that we have guys that see some players differently. You are never going to pick all consensus picks in a draft. That just doesn't happen, but I think we were very respectful of everyone's opinions, and there are definitely times when people disagreed. That is just the nature of this thing. That is where I think when you have a leader like Andrew through these last three days, he is able to take in all the information and then make decisions based on what he thinks is in the best interest of the club."
On the impact of adding players who fit the team's scheme, in addition to their talent:
"There is a certain style of offense, a certain style of defense and definitely a certain style of special teams for the Cleveland Browns. When we are going out, we want to see if we can identify the guys that can play to that style. I will say this: we wouldn't be very good coaches if we eliminated good players just because they couldn't fit. There are some schematic mis-fits, but I think a lot of times, there are guys that you say, 'Well, he doesn't do this perfectly, but he does this so well. We could definitely make it work.' That is our job to make it work. I think that is where we have those conversations early and often about what their traits are and what their skillset is. Then we recognize that none of these guys are perfect so what trait are we willing to value more than the others is kind of the conversations that have come up over the last couple of months."
On the Browns not drafting a DE and if that can be viewed as a commitment to DE Olivier Vernon in 2020:
"That is my assumption. Obviously, I think Olivier is a really great player. Unfortunately, he was banged up a little bit, but we look forward to all our guys contributing next year. I wouldn't say it was a message of any sort in the fact that we didn't draft defensive ends. We are not in the business of sending messages via the draft. We just kind of – going back previously –trusted the board, and as the players came up, we made sure that we had the right people for the job."
On the first week of the Browns' virtual offseason program:
"I thought it went really well. I think the guys are definitely responding to the coaches. We as coaches are figuring out new ways to do this thing, and I have really challenged the coaches to think outside the box and think creatively of how we can reach these players remotely. The feedback I have from the players has been very positive. We are working really hard to teach these systems to the guys and making sure that they are getting the information. Now, at this point that we are able to have interact interaction with them, we can have Zoom calls where they can ask questions and we can test them and see what is making sense. I think it has been really helpful. So far so good. The nice part is we have nine more weeks of this, and God willing, at some point during those weeks we are together in the building with the guys. I do think there is a lot of work to be done in the classroom because as I'm sure you all know, these offensive and defensive systems, as you teach them, we are going to take our time and we are going to be the teachers that coaches are. Our job right now is to find as many ways as we can to get this information across to them. As I told the players, it doesn't matter what I know and it doesn't matter what the coaches know; it matters what our players know.
On if the team has hosted Zoom calls with 50-70 players:
"We have done that. A lot of smaller Zoom calls, though. It is a little bit more conducive to teaching and learning, but we have had some bigger calls, yes."
The Browns have selected Donovan Peoples-Jones in the 2020 NFL Draft.