The transformation of the Browns' offensive line continued Thursday with the team's first pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
The Browns on Thursday selected Alabama OT Jedrick Wills Jr. with the No. 10 overall pick, adding one of the top offensive tackles in this year's class to an offensive line that promises to have a different look on the edges in 2020.
"We are incredibly excited to add Jedrick to our organization," Browns Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry said. "Jed was one of the guys that we had targeted coming into this evening and 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, need and was really just kind of perfect for us this evening.
The Browns have selected Jedrick Wills Jr. in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Wills, a 6-foot-4, 312-pound Lexington, Kentucky, native, started the past two seasons at right tackle for the Crimson Tide. He took over the starting role in 2018 and emerged as one of the best tackles in college football this past season, earning second-team All-American honors while manning the blind side for left-handed QB Tua Tagovailoa.
Wills, who started 28 games over the course of his Alabama career, allowed just one quarterback sack and 3.5 quarterback hurries last season. He was the biggest force on Alabama's offensive line, which ranked third nationally and allowed just .92 sacks per game.
"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," Berry said. "We just felt that he checked all the boxes for us coming into this weekend."
Berry indicated Wills would be transitioning to the left side with the Browns. Cleveland signed All-Pro RT Jack Conklin last month at the start of the league year.
"He was protecting (Tua Tagovailoa's) blindside in college with a left-handed quarterback," Browns Chief Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta said. "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. (Offensive line coach Bill Callahan) 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."
Wills was the second of four offensive tackles selected in the top half of the first round. Georgia's Andrew Thomas went No. 4 to the Giants while Louisville's Mekhi Becton (No. 11, Jets) and Iowa's Tristan Wirfs (No. 13, Buccaneers) followed shortly thereafter. Wills was the second of four Alabama players -- all of whom played on the offensive side of the ball -- picked in the top 15.
"The first time you turned on the tape, I could envision this kid playing in our scheme and playing for our team," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. "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."
NFL.com's Lance Zierlein called Wills "one of the most impressive tackles in the draft."
"He has basketball-caliber foot quickness and the quick hands of a boxer, and all of it is wrapped in a stout, powerful package of bad intentions," Zierlein writes. "His game is tailor-made for the NFL, and his range of success is good starter to All-Pro."
The Browns' next pick is slated for Friday in the second round at No. 41 overall.
"It was seamless, just kind of how we expected it would be," Stefanski said. "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."