2020 NFL Draft

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How one Browns pick lost 30 pounds and another gained it to respectively achieve NFL dreams

Before he committed to Florida Atlantic, Harrison Bryant was a 215-pound defensive end prospect on his way to a Football Championship Subdivision school. 

When Jordan Elliott transferred to Missouri in 2017, he tipped the scales at 325 pounds after weighing as much as 343 in his freshman year at Texas.

Bryant went up nearly 30 pounds as he grew into his body while becoming one of the best tight ends in college football. Elliott went the other way, dropping down all the way to 292 pounds for what would become a breakout 2019 season before packing on 10 pounds of muscle for the NFL Combine in February.

Both players are now Browns, of course, and both can give partial credit to the work they did inside the weight room and at the dinner table for why they're now in the NFL.

"Four years ago if you would've told me this when I came in — I was like 215 pounds — I probably would've laughed at you," Bryant told the Florida Sun-Sentinel earlier this year. "A lot of hard work, great teammates, great coaches and it happened, so it's pretty cool."

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A growth spurt near the end of Bryant's high school career -- which actually made him leaner -- prompted Bryant, the Browns' fourth-round pick, to switch from offensive tackle to tight end before his senior season. Still, despite recording 39 receptions for 608 yards and 10 touchdowns, Bryant initially drew more attention for his defensive accolades, which included winning the 2015 Baldwin County (Georgia) Defensive Player of the Year award. 

Whether he was going to play defensive end or tight end, Bryant had a major weight gain in his future. When Florida Atlantic offered him to do it as a tight end -- trumping the offer he had from Samford to play defense -- Bryant was thrilled. He attacked it so strongly that he even dropped a few pounds before his huge senior season, going from 250 to 245 before hauling in 65 passes for 1,004 yards and seven touchdowns.

"Just coming out of high school, sometimes there are unique transitions," said Glenn Cook, Browns assistant director of scouting. "He kind of came into college at 215 and he has worked his way up to about 235-240. I think he filled out maybe a little bit and maybe a late bloomer physically, but he transitioned pretty well to the position, if you ask me."

Elliott was playing well at 325 pounds, as he collected eight tackles for loss and three sacks as a rotational defensive lineman in 2018. He just took his game to another level for the following season when he arrived looking like a completely different person. A regular starter this time around, Elliott finished with 10 tackles for loss, three sacks and 44 tackles to earn second-team All-American honors.

"I cut out red meat and chicken. I only ate turkey and fish for a long time," Elliott said after the draft. "Right now, I'm on a no-meat fast so I just eat vegetables and stuff. That is something that I did probably a year and a half ago. Just cut out the red meat and chicken, and then I just started losing weight, working out more and it all came together."

Elliott might be underselling the last part just a tad.

According to a 2019 article in The Missourian, Elliott and his fellow defensive linemen went through a summer of cardio-focused workouts they described as "Thor's Hammer." The exhausting three-part workout would culminate with 20, 20-yard sprints under the blazing summer sun.

Browns coach Kevin Stefanski lauded Elliott's physical tools shortly after the Browns selected him with the 88th overall pick. He cracked a smile when he was asked what it said about Elliott that he was able to drop 30 pounds over the course of a year and a half.

"He's a disciplined eater," Stefanski said.

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