As an NFL general manager, Andrew Berry has never left his phone too far from him at any point of the day.
Now, as most people across the world stay at home to stop the spread of COVID-19, Berry admits his phone is attached to his hip as he prepares himself and his staff for the NFL's "virtual" draft.
"I think it is just more different, right?" the Browns executive vice president of football operations and general manager said Friday on a conference call with local reporters. "It is more a different environment than any team has operated under, but all teams have faced the same challenges. From my perspective, we are going to be prepared and ready to go regardless of the circumstances. I feel confident that we are going to have a very high-quality draft. We have a really strong support staff that has been working through a number of creative and effective solutions that we have used already throughout the free agency and draft preparation process.
"I have full confidence that we are going to be ready to go here in two weeks."
Berry credited plenty of co-workers for helping him feel this way with 13 days to go before the Browns are on the clock with the No. 10 pick.
On top of crediting his player personnel staff, which he considered to be a "pretty progressive group," he shouted out some of the men behind the scenes, including Vice President of Information Technology Brandon Covert, Systems & Network Engineer Jud Covert and Director of Video Rob Pavlas for providing him with the necessary resources and tools to make everything as close to business as usual during these unusual times.
"We are fortunate to live in an age of technology so it has not disrupted the work product or workflow from that standpoint," Berry said. "Look, obviously, you miss a little bit of something with not being able to engage with people in person, but it really has not slowed the free agency or draft process from my perspective. We felt very prepared going into free agency, and we feel very prepared at this point in the draft process. It has had its challenges, but we have navigated them pretty well."
Berry is fresh off executing a free agency plan that included the acquisition of Pro Bowl TE Austin Hooper, All-Pro RT Jack Conklin, reliable veteran backup QB Case Keenum and a number of defensive players who are viewed as systematic fits for what coordinator Joe Woods wants to run. Though the roster looks much different than it did a month ago, Berry didn't close the door on Cleveland adding even more talent in the coming days, weeks and months.
There's always work to be done in all areas of roster building, no matter the time of year or circumstances.
"We think they embody the characteristics that we are looking for in terms of people, fitting into our locker room and fitting into our organization," Berry said. "We like the value we got for the players. I think it is a good start to the offseason. We have five months until hopefully we are playing in early September. We still have a lot of work to do to add competition to each of the different position groups, but certainly, the guys we have added to the roster so far we are excited to have them and we are excited to have them with the Browns."
Identifying the Browns of the future, of course, is a year round process that really kicks into overdrive during this part of the year.
Berry and the rest of Cleveland's player personnel staff went through the NFL Combine together and held a number of conventional meetings in the days that followed before the team facility was closed to most employees. Almost all Pro Days were wiped from the calendar and, instead of hosting up to 30 prospects for full-day visits at the facility, the Browns adhered to the NFL's modified rules and held video conferences with a variety of players. Berry credited the league for providing some much-needed medical updates on the prospects who had question marks after visiting with team doctors at the Combine.
"Yes, there is a little more sight work this year compared to prior years," Berry said, "but we are still going to be at a really good place for the players who are in consideration for us in the draft and then after the draft."
Before draft night arrives, Berry said the Browns will go through a handful of dress rehearsals that feature a number of different scenarios, including an "Armageddon" one with power, Internet or both failing at an inopportune time.
Truly, everything needs to be on the table for a weekend that no one has ever experienced before.
"I think we are pretty well prepared on that front," Berry said, "and have a number of strong contingency plans in place."