Skip to main content

2023 NFL Draft

Andrew Berry, Kevin Stefanski, Paul DePodesta explain why Jedrick Wills Jr. was the pick at No. 10 - Conference Calls

Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry:

Opening statement:

"(T) Jedrick Wills, we are incredibly excited to add Jedrick to our organization. Jed was one of the guys that we had targeted coming into this evening. He was a guy for us where just his performance over the past two years at Alabama, the way that he attacked our Spring process and just the overall make of the individual, we thought he was a guy that really fit in terms of talent, make-up and need and was really just kind of perfect for us this evening. Jed, from our perspective, a very well-rounded skillset, great feet, athletic ability, coordination, advanced in pass pro and very physical in the run game. Just a really well-rounded player for us. The other thing that really impressed us with Jed, particularly this spring, was obviously just his preparation and organization around his preparation habits and routine. It is very difficult on clubs but also on prospects with obviously all the restrictions with COVID-19. One thing that really resonated with us, in particularly when we interviewed Jed after everything shut down, is just his approach and his process to training, whether that was physically with conditioning, strength training or his on-field work and working at left tackle and then obviously the preparation that he's put into the classroom. We are really excited to add him. The last thing I'll mention before opening up to questions is, I spoke with (LB) Mack Wilson last night – we get in the habit of speaking with former teammates on a number of prospects that we consider coming into the weekend – and when I was asking Mack about the Alabama guys and we got to Jed, Mack, he paused and he goes, 'Man, Jed is  a baller,' It is a very simple phrase, but it is something certainly we agreed with and we are excited to have him to the organization. I think he has a ton of potential. A lot of work to do, but we are happy to add him to the team."

On what separates Wills from T prospects Tristan Wirfs and Mekhi Becton who were also available:

"I don't know that it is really fair to compare prospects. What I can say for Jedrick is here is an individual who came in as a true freshman, was a contributor at perhaps the most competitive program in college football, as a true sophomore and a true junior and was really the blindside protector for the program and consistently matched up against edge rushers in the most competitive conference in college football. What he was able to do at such a young age over an extended period of time was certainly impressive to us, as well as just all of the people that we spoke to around the Alabama program including (Alabama Head) Coach (Nick) Saban. We just felt that he checked all the boxes for us coming into this weekend."

On how Wills will be able to transition to LT after playing RT in college:

"I do think that there is going to be some physical reprograming or gaining a little bit of comfort. From our perspective with Jed, the reason that he was playing the right side at Alabama is because they had a very successful left-handed quarterback. In terms of the actual physical skillset – his speed, his athletic ability and his ability to pass-protect – all of those are top notch from our perspective, and we think that he can really play either side of the line of scrimmage."

On how Wills fits the outside zone blocking scheme and how important it was to find a player to match that offensive scheme:

"We do think that Jed is a very clean fit for our offensive system and largely because of his athletic ability and his movement ability. They ran a lot of wide zone at Alabama, too, so it was a bit of an easier translation for us because it is not like he was in an offensive system where you didn't see him do some things in the running game that we are going to require of our offensive linemen, but we think really physically he is certainly one of the prototypes for our system."

On if he was surprised that three of the four top-graded LTs were available at No. 10 and if the Browns had options to trade down:

"I'm never surprised by anything in the draft at this point. In full disclosure, yeah, I did expect more tackles to come off the board a little bit earlier. We did have some options to potentially move down the board. Obviously, we sat and decided to make the pick. We felt really good about Jed, and we are excited to have him."

On if the decision to take Wills at No. 10 was an easy or difficult choice:

"There were certainly a lot of good players available at No. 10. There are going to be a lot of good players that are available through the rest of the draft. We felt very strongly about Jed. He was certainly one of the guys that we had targeted coming into Thursday night, and we were excited when he was available to us at No. 10."

On the team's process moving forward after the draft to prepare for the season, particularly considering challenges with COVID-19:

"Kevin is probably better to speak on that, but we actually have a pretty good virtual offseason plan. Yes, we are not allowed to be with these guys physically, but we are fortunate enough to have video technology where we can still provide the resources to make sure that these guys can get up to speed and get the support that they need to get up and running with the new offensive and defensive systems. All the other 31 teams are dealing with the same challenges, but we feel very equipped to make sure that our guys can hit the ground running when they are allowed back in the building."

On how much consideration the Browns gave to potentially trading for Redskins LT Trent Williams:

"As you know, I don't generally like to make a habit of speaking or speculating on guys who aren't on our roster, but we are open to anything that helps improve the team. Any decision we make, we think that it is what is really the best in that moment, and for us to get a young, very, very talented tackle that can grow with the young core of our roster, we are very excited to do. Jed has a very well-rounded skillset, he plays a premium position and we think he has the proper make-up to really flourish in our organization."

On Wills working at LT earlier this offseason and if that was at the Browns' recommendation or his agent:

"Jed knew coming into this process that there were a number of teams that would have asked him to make that switch. One of the things that he talked about is with his on-field work, once everything really shut down, he would divide it really 60-40 left tackle versus right tackle. Now, one of his frustrations that he mentioned is not being able to do it under particular supervision just because of the distance, but he really has taken the initiative to begin some of that prep work on his own. It is really a credit to him and it is a credit to his drive."

On if the Browns mentioned LT to Wills in their early conversations:

"It is something that we discussed when we met with him at the combine. I can't sit here and say that we were the only team who asked him about that, but when you speak with him, if you haven't already, I'm sure that he will mention that it was a pretty common discussion point with him throughout the process."

On if he envisions that Wills will the team's starting LT on Day 1 after playing RT in college or if the team could consider him at RT:

"Ultimately, that decision resides with the coach and it resides with (Head Coach) Kevin (Stefanski), but we feel confident in our ability to work with him and make sure that he is up to speed. We are fortunate to have the offensive line coach who has presided over probably the most high-profile switch from right tackle to left tackle in (offensive line coach) Bill Callahan. We feel really good about the group and the support that we'll be able to give him."

On collaboration with Chief Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta and Stefanski to ultimately select Wills:

"From our perspective, there was a ton of organizational consensus around the pick, whether it is Paul (DePodesta), Kevin (Stefanski), and myself or more broadly, our scouts, our research and strategy group and our coaching staff. There was a lot of belief in Jedrick as a person and in Jedrick as a player. We feel really good about bringing him into the organization as a whole. There was a ton of alignment with the pick."

On if there was a strong separation in tiers of this year's T prospects that made the Browns commit to picking at No. 10 and not trade down:

"It was really more we felt so strongly about Jedrick than any really strong demarcation. We really like him a lot. He was one of the guys that we really targeted coming into the evening. It was less about perhaps running out of options and [more about] seeing a player where the overall talent level matched with some of our goals entering the weekend. It was really more about that than anything."

On if the Browns entered the night with the goal to select a LT in the first round, despite earlier comments that the team would not be pigeon-holed into one position tonight:

"I was shooting you guys straight when I was saying that we would be flexible coming in to the weekend. Ultimately, you never really know how the board is going to fall. In this instance, it really fell in our favor, but we do go into it with an open mind and not try to be too narrow because you do need a little bit of luck to go along the way."

Head Coach Kevin Stefanski:

On the Browns selecting T Jedrick Wills:

"There are a lot of things I like about this kid. He has played a bunch of games down there at Alabama. He will turn 21 next month. I liked his makeup. I like his tenacity, his toughness, his intelligence, and then not to mention that he is a scheme fit for our team. Great movement skills. Plays with a nastiness. I think we got a winner, and I think we got the right person. I keep coming back to it and it is the truth: just trying to get some good players in here and some good people, and he fits the bill."

On if Wills' footwork skills will be a strength during his transition to the NFL:

"Yeah, I think that is a big part of his game is his athleticism. When you are evaluating really any position, the saying is 'the tape is your résumé.' When you watch the tape of Jedrick play, it is very evident the type of player he is. What happen postseason with the combine and the workouts, then it just stamped his movement skills that what you saw on tape was legit. I think once we got to know the person and spend some time with him and our coaches spent some time with him, we really felt very comfortable that we were getting a guy that certainly fits our scheme and certainly fits our building."

On what makes the Browns coaching staff so comfortable that Wills can transition to LT after playing RT in college:

"I am very confident in Jedrick for a bunch of reasons. First and foremost, I point out (offensive line coach) Bill Callahan. I think he is top notch at developing players. This is something that he has done before. Then you have to look at Jedrick's skillset and you have to look at the makeup of the kid. To some players, it may be a tougher transition than others, but I am very confident that Jedrick has that ability. He has already been working on it. He was down there protecting the blind side of (former Alabama and Dolphins QB) Tua (Tagovailoa) as everybody knows. It is something that he will work at and he will continue to get better, but I feel confident that we have Coach Callahan there to lead that development."

On what made Wills the best fit from other Ts available at No. 10:

"It is that all encompassing picture of skillset and person. I go back to the tape. The first time you turned on the tape, I could envision this kid playing in our scheme and playing for our team. Certainly, I see the versatility of being able to play both sides. It solidified for us and for me with the postseason, the testing and then more than the testing would be the personality and getting to know him. I do not want to compare him to those guys because that is just really not fair at this point, but I would tell you we are very, very excited to add him."

On selecting a player from Alabama and logistics with the virtual draft tonight:

"I think that is a great point about playing at Alabama because you know two things: No. 1, he has been coached and he has been coached hard, and then you also know he has gone against some pretty darn good competition down there. That is an important part of an evaluation is watching a player good-versus-good. You did not have to search for a long to find good-versus-good when you are evaluating Jedrick. We feel really confident getting an Alabama guy. The second part, it was seamless, just kind of how we expected it would be. I wish I had some great story for you, but we kind of sat here, watched the board come off and got a guy we really wanted. The phones did not go down and the internet did not cut off. Felt really good about it, and we are excited to do it again tomorrow night."

On if there are concerns that Coach Callahan will not get as much time with Wills due to this year's offseason restrictions, how will it impact his transition to LT and if the Browns would remain open to having T Jack Conklin play LT with Wills at RT:

"I think we will leave all options on the table at this point, but I do think we will have the opportunity to work virtually with Jedrick. It will not be ideal like getting your hands on him like you said, but I am really confident in Coach's ability and in a setting and explaining what he wants to see. There are various ways and we are figuring them out and we are getting creative about how we are sending the guys video of different drills and different techniques that they can do. I believe we will be able to get that done. I am confident because I think Jedrick is already on the way to doing those things. Like I mentioned, he has been well coached. He has been a left side stance before. I think it is just going to be the muscle memory over and over. Like you said, when we do get him, whenever that is, there will still be work to done and we know we are getting a young player so it is going to be a process. It is going to be a process of development, and I trust that we have the guys to get it done."

On Callahan's input when evaluating Wills and Ts:

"I think all of our coaches had a big voice. That is where I applaud (Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager) Andrew (Berry) and his crew and how collaborative they have been throughout this entire process. It would have been ideal to have us all in the same building and be together [before the draft] and be together tonight, but we have found ways to make sure throughout this process that everybody was included and involved. Certainly for a pick like this one, we made sure that Coach Callahan was right there throughout the process. [Coach Callahan] has seen it all, and I think his expertise in this area was a big part of this."

On Wills' proficiency in run and pass blocking and helping accelerate his transition to LT this offseason:

"I think we are going to have to be creative with this piece of Jedrick's development, just like all of our players quite honestly. Our coaches are thinking long and hard about different ways to develop the guys virtually and remotely. There are ways to do it. We are going to make sure that we exhaust all the ones we can within the framework of the rules. In terms of Jedrick's skillset, I think he is a complete player. There was some carry over to the run schemes that they ran that are similar to things that we will run. You see the ability in a downhill offense and the ability in a wide zone offense. I think he is kind of versatile to be able to do both of them. Pass protection wise, I just think he is a technician. I think he can only get better but really liked the use of his feet and his hands in his pass protection."

On assessing how the Browns Ts have improved dramatically this offseason, regardless of who plays either side:

"I think that is a really good point. We added (T) Jack (Conklin) in free agency and added Jedrick tonight. We will figure it out, I guess is the best way of putting it. Whether Jack is the right and Jedrick is the left, we will figure that out. I like the idea that we added two really smart, tough, versatile football players that will make us better. I am confident that the coaches will put them in position to succeed."

On if there was ever a sense of nervousness about options at No. 10 and the significance of acquiring not only a player the team wanted in Wills but one at a position of need:

"I think draft night is always fun. You have done your homework, you have gone through the mock drafts, you kind of have a sense of where guys are going and then you get a surprise. We were sitting there kind of surprised there were no trades in front of us at any point. It is the classic letting the board speak to you. For us, we sat there and most of us were muted for a lot of the time trying to make sure there wasn't a ton of chatter. I explained it to AB, I said, 'This is like gameday. You have the headset on. I'm here to help you but I'm not just going to be in your ear and chattering to distract you.' He was outstanding just like I knew he would be. The communication was really good. It was very calm on there, which I think helps the thinking. There we are at No. 10 and we got a guy that we are really excited to have."

On if the initial idea is for Wills to play LT?

"Yeah, I think that's fair to say."

On if there is a sense of satisfaction with the mentality of protecting a blindside, given Wills played with a left-handed QB at Alabama:

"Yeah, I would say yes, I am. I do think these offensive linemen take it very, very personally when their player gets past them and then hits the quarterback. I think when you are tasked with protecting the blindside of a quarterback, you are tasked with blocking a guy who, if you get beat, the QB may not see it. I think it is a big deal. I think it is something mentality wise that you will get from Jedrick. This guy is a tough dude. I have already texted with (QB) Baker (Mayfield). I think Baker has already texted with Jedrick. I think we will have a guy over there that understands how important that position is."

On whose NFL film the Browns may want Wills to be watching and if the team could have former Browns T Joe Thomas work with him in-person during the virtual offseason:

"I don't think you could, no. Now, Joe Thomas as a resource? Yes. One of the best to ever do it? Yes. I will make sure Joe and Jedrick talk if they haven't already. I think we are uniquely positioned to have a guy like Joe who can be there and explain to any of our young players but particularly an offensive lineman the what to do, what not to do type of thing. Certainly, we will get those guys linked up, but I don't believe we could have them work out like that. Film wise, we have a library of film. I like to tell the coaches that one of the best ways that our players learn is through film. The nice thing for us is that we have a robust library. We will certainly have him watching tape schematically, but there is no particular player that I would ask him to emulate necessarily. I just want him to kind of get some film of some of the blocking schemes and some of the pass-protection schemes. Certainly, we will have plenty of homework for him to do in that regard."

Chief Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta:

Opening statement:

"Tonight, best player available on our board happened to be a position of a real need on our team. That does not happen every year, but we were fortunate that was the case. We are thrilled to get (T) Jedrick (Wills) on our team."

On having several of the top-rated Ts available at No. 10 and if that was a surprise for the team:

"We went through a lot of different scenarios over the course of the past week and really tried to prepare for the worst. We didn't necessarily anticipate that we were going to have any of them to chose from. We had a lot of different scenarios in mind where they might not be there, but we also thought there was a real chance that at least one or two of them could be there. I think we were pleasantly surprised that three were there, but we had run through so many scenarios that we definitely thought this was at least a reasonable likelihood that we would have a shot at one of the guys we really like. We did not necessarily know we would have a shot at the top one on our board so that was a pleasant surprise."

On the front office's collaboration and Head Coach Kevin Stefanski saying the night had been seamless:

"It went really well. I think I said this last week, my biggest regret to date is that we are not all in the building together today. tomorrow and Saturday in order to enjoy this together because it really has been a collaborative effort to this point. Even with this pick, it was highly collaborative when we were on the phone with everybody even at 6:30 p.m. tonight with the entire football operation – coaches, scouts, front office people and everybody. Hopefully, everyone is at home and is excited as we are collectively. It really has been seamless. We would have liked to have been there to celebrate together, but I think we made the most of it."

On how much data is available related to college Ts switching sides in the NFL:

"I think probably the most prominent one and probably the most important one for us is (Cowboys T) Tyron Smith from the Cowboys. It happened to be that the coach who oversaw that was (offensive line coach) Bill Callahan. He was a dominate right tackle in college. He has been a dominate left tackle in the NFL. Fortunately for us, we have his coach. A sample of one there is not a great sample, but we know it is possible. I think Bill is excited to have him. In the case of Jedrick, too, it is a little different. He was protecting too his blindside in college with a left-handed quarterback. That is primarily why he was playing right. Obviously, they had (Bengals T) Jonah Williams up until this year, too, playing on the other side. We are confident that athletically he can do it. Bill obviously feels comfortable that he can do it. Not that it will be seamless because I think with every player, as we talked about last week, they all have their growing pains when they get to this level. I am sure he will experience some of those and also because he has to make the transition to the other side, but we are very confident he will be able to do it."

On if T was a priority in the first round:

"If things fell the right way. As I said before, we have been really focused on best player available. Now, as it turns out, we thought there were a handful of very good tackles on the board this year and that was a real need for us. I think it meshed together nicely, but it was not something we thought, 'We have to do this.' In terms of remaining flexible, we were in contact with teams in front of us, we were in contact with teams behind us and we were prepared for a lot of different eventualities. Earlier today, AB and I were talking and we said, 'Well, we know when we go to bed tonight we are going to be a lot better off than we were when we woke up. We just do not know exactly how.' We knew there were going to be some really good players available to us at No. 10. We just did not know who they were going to be. As it turns out, we got one we are incredibly excited about."

On if Wills was the top choice of the four top-graded Ts in the draft:

"He was actually the top tackle on our board from the beginning. We were really excited. It is a really, really good group of tackles so that is certainly not to slight those other guys because I think they would have all been worthy of being taken with our pick. We were certainly excited about Jedrick."

On if the Browns trading for Redskins T Trent Williams was a viable option this weekend, depending on what happened at No. 10:

"Because he still plays for another team, I do not want to really comment too much about the player. I will say this: throughout the spring, we have tried to understand all of the available options to us, especially at a position of such importance at left tackle. I think we have kept abreast of the different possibilities. We knew there were some real possibilities in this draft, but I think that is really where our focus was ultimately. We did think we had a decent shot at one of these guys falling to us at No. 10. I think we were going to wait to see what happened there before we really pursued any other avenue."

On the amount of conversation from other teams inquiring about the No. 10 pick and if it was a different amount due to the virtual draft:

"It is a good question. I am not sure. It was funny. After the 12th pick – we have a group chat in addition to our WebEx meeting going on right now – I wrote in the group chat, 'When was the last time that we went through the first 12 picks without a transaction?' It was about two minutes later that they announced the swap for No. 13 and No. 14 so I think I got my comment in under the wire. I do not know what contributed to it. I think the distance probably has something to do with it, but then again, even in past drafts when we are making deals, you are making them on the phone. That is no different today than it is if we were all in the draft room. The conversations that you have after you make the call or after you have the call, those are a little different. We have to run those a little differently, but I do not think ultimately that really influenced the lack of transactions. I think it was because there were a lot of really interesting players available to teams. We talked to some teams in front of us in preparation for the draft and kind of everyone said the same thing, which is if one or two players are available to us, we are going to sit and pick. I think we kind of felt the same way. If there are certain players available to us, we are going to sit and pick. Otherwise, we are interested in moving around. The way the draft fell early, it just seemed like the teams that were picking had guys on their board that they just wanted to sit and pick."

On if the Browns not intending to trade down if Wills was available at No. 10:

"No, I think there were probably some opportunities to if we had really pushed it, but no, I think there were a couple players where we thought we were going to sit and pick for sure."

On what separated Wills from the other Ts in this draft class:

"All of them were attractive for sort of their own reasons. We thought this was a highly unusual tackle class. This is probably as good of an offensive tackle class certainly since 2016, when we had some awfully good ones come out early in the first round. You had guys like (Ravens T) Ronnie Stanley and (Texans T) Laremy Tunsil and now our own Jack Conklin – very very accomplished guys. This class at least as we sit here today, sort of matches up with that. I think when you start separating one from the other, you get a little picky because they are all really, really good. In any normal draft, any one of them could have been the top tackle available. For us with Jedrick, though, I think it was the combination of everything. It is obviously playing at a place like Alabama, the coaching he has already gotten, his athleticism and his smarts. This is a very bright guy. I think he is really advanced from a football knowledge standpoint. We think mentally he is advanced, and he is just a mature person. He is a pro I think already. That doesn't mean he is not going to have a lot of things to learn and he is not going t have to grow in different ways, but we just really liked his approach to the game. We have talked a lot about finding players that are smart, tough and accountable, and we felt like he really checked all three of those boxes."

On if any of the top-graded four LTs would have been suitable for the team at No. 10 to not go outside of the draft for a LT:

"I don't know if I would go quite that far, but there were certainly guys that we liked. We also thought there were some other non-tackles that we liked that we would have been excited to take at No. 10, if in fact there had been a run on tackles early in front of us, and we would have then gone in another direction in terms of finding an answer there. We liked him certainly quite a bit, but I think there were some at least differences in terms of the way we felt about each individual guy. That probably would have changed our strategy a little bit depending on who was there. That ultimately was something we weren't faced with since the top guy was there."

On if the Browns may have identified a LT outside of the draft if the team's two top LT draft prospects were not available:

"I think it's hard to say. I probably won't share exactly how our board lined up, but we are certainly happy with the way it ended up."

On how much of a factor offensive line coach Bill Callahan's input and his confidence in Wills' potential to move to LT impacted the decision:

"I don't want to put too much on Bill because I think that would be unfair, but we certainly weighed his opinion pretty heavily in this group, and he absolutely felt confident that this was something that was possible and that Jedrick could do. That doesn't mean it is going to be flawless, but I think he has a strong belief that Jedrick is capable of doing this. That definitely weighed heavily. If he had come to us and said, 'Listen, this is highly unlikely that he could make such a transition,' then I don't think he would be the top guy on our board."

On when Wills became the No. 1 tackle on the Browns' draft board:

"We had scouting meetings back in February before going to the combine. We set at least at that point and had sort of separated the top guys and maybe had a preliminary ranking, but it was far from being set in stone. In fact, it was probably in light pencil at that point. We had additional meetings in early April and then we also had meetings with our coaching staff in early-to-mid April. It wasn't really until after all those processes were complete that we had our order. I would have said it is maybe two weeks ago when it was set the way it ended up turning out."

On if the Browns met with Wills virtually in recent weeks and if they discussed playing LT:

"Our coaches did. I wasn't on the call so I don't know exactly what was discussed, but I know that they did address it and I think everybody felt comfortable about his ability to do it."

Related Content