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2020 NFL Draft

Browns draft picks each overcome adversity in their own way

Earlier this year, Browns coach Hue Jackson laid out the characteristics he looks for in players to add to his football team.

"I'm looking for high-character guys," he said in February at the NFL's annual scouting combine.

"We're also looking for some people that are tough, guys that have passion for the game of football because we all know it's a very tough game."

The Browns this past weekend made good on that approach, drafting a bevy of players who have faced — and overcome — different degrees of obstacles in their collegiate careers. Cleveland, which added 14 new members to its roster, sought out players who have proven their grit on and off the field.

"We're always looking to add players to the roster who have a level of toughness and have the ability to overcome adversity," said vice president of player personnel Andrew Berry, who led the team's scouting efforts.

"I can't tell you that it was a conscious selection to hit a certain number of players who have overcome some pretty significant obstacles in their lives, but this is a tough sport and you need tough men to play it. We feel they embody that criteria."

Start with former Auburn tackle and third-round draft pick Shon Coleman, who battled leukemia before rejoining the Tigers in 2013. Corey Coleman, the former Baylor receiver and first-round pick, made it out of a rough neighborhood in South Dallas to become one of the nation's top receivers.

Then there's Penn State defensive end Carl Nassib, who went from a lanky walk-on to the Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Year and a third-round draft pick; Scooby Wright, the former Arizona star linebacker and seventh-round pick, played through knee and foot injuries last season.

Oklahoma State defensive end and second-round pick Emmanuel Ogbah came to America with his family after turmoil in his homeland of Nigeria prompted them to leave; USC quarterback and third-rounder Cody Kessler steadied the Trojans despite five coaching changes in three years; Wisconsin linebacker Joe Schobert went from a walk-on to one of the Big Ten's most productive players and a fourth-round pick.

The Browns kicked off a jam-packed Day 3 of the 2016 NFL Draft on Saturday by selecting Wisconsin linebacker Joe Schobert at the start of the fourth round with the No. 99 pick.

"Those are the type of guys we want on campus," said Jackson, who added, "we're giving them an opportunity. They have to do it, and we see the characteristics in them that's going to give them a chance to hopefully compete on this football team."

Cleveland's chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta echoed a similar sentiment.

"Our coaches hustled like crazy during the combine to try get to know these kids. Not perfect by any stretch, but (character) was something that we really emphasize and was important to us this year."

And as a result, Jackson said this class could be the beginning of a culture that's already seemed to change in Berea.

"I truly believe that this class will start to put a stamp on what we are truly about and what we are becoming," he said.

"We're not there yet by any stretch of the imagination. We have a long way to go, but you have to start some place. I think this is where we are starting."

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