Hours after the Browns wrapped up the 2020 NFL Draft, Browns EVP of Football Operations and GM Andrew Berry and coach Kevin Stefanski both delivered high praise and detailed analysis for how each of their seven newest draft picks could fit within the Browns roster.
Time will tell how far each pick will go under the guidance of the new Browns regime, but there was one indisputable theme that could be taken from Berry and Stefanski's first draft together.
The duo has alignment. Before the draft, Berry vowed the Browns would stick to their draft board and take players that offered Cleveland the best long-term production. Stefanski wanted players that would best fit the offensive schemes he carried over from his time as an offensive coordinator with the Minnesota Vikings. Defensively, the Browns simply needed to add talented players at each level of the field.
Each pick fits that plan in some way.
"I love working with Kevin, just period," Berry said in his post-draft conference call. "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. I really could not ask for a better partner really in any situation."
The Browns held true to their plan from their first pick to their last. In the first round, they opted to stay put rather than trade back from No. 10 and land the best offensive tackle on their draft board, Jedrick Wills Jr. When they traded back from pick No. 41 to 44 in the second round, they still managed to land Grant Delpit, one of the most promising safeties in the draft. The Browns added an extra third-round pick in 2021 by trading back in the third round.
Not every pick addressed an immediate need for the Browns, however, and that's OK.
Nick Harris, a center from Washington drafted in the fifth round, will have time to develop behind veteran JC Tretter and potentially expand into a guard, too. Harris projects best in a zone-blocking system, the style of offense Stefanski will run in Cleveland.
Harrison Bryant, a tight end from FAU drafted in the fourth round, joins a crowded group of tight ends but will be a key developmental piece under Stefanski, who has made his love for tight ends very well-known since he was hired by the Browns in January.
The rest of the picks — DT Jordan Elliott, LB Jacob Phillips and WR Donovan Peoples-Jones — all fill into positions that could use more immediate production next season. They'll have a chance to carve out a larger role with the Browns in training camp, but they won't be rushed into immediate playing time.
No picks came at a high risk, and no risky moves were made to acquire a player with unproven talent.
Berry and Stefanski have a cohesive plan outlined for each player. There's a long way to go to see how it will work, but their trust in each other is a reason for optimism.
"I don't know if it is some mystery, but I think Andrew and I see this thing very similarly," Stefanski said. "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. We all knew kind of where we stood on a bunch of issues.
"It was a collaborative effort, but I wouldn't call it anything surprising."
Stefanski is right. The Browns didn't have many surprises in their draft selections, and they didn't need to have any.
Instead, they showed collaboration and the ability to execute a thorough, analytically-driven plan they've discussed for the last four months.
That draft plan is complete. Now, the Browns have to prove it can work on the field, too.
"We are excited about what we have done so far this spring," Berry said. "We also know it all has to play out in the fall. We have a lot of hard work on the field to do before that comes to fruition."