MOBILE, Alabama -- Opportunities for the entire Browns player personnel department to spend time together under one roof or within the confines of one stadium don't come very often.
That's what made this week's Senior Bowl practices so productive for a Browns football operations department that is now headed by executive vice president Sashi Brown. With the team's scouts spread coast to coast and residing in a number of areas throughout the country, Brown took value from simply being with all of the people who provide the backbone to the team's research and evaluation of prospects without needing a phone or video screen.
"It's great to see them as a group with a number of guys on the road (throughout the year) and just being able to come down here together and see the talented seniors in this year's class," Brown said.
Over three days of practices, Brown sat right next to coach Hue Jackson while the rest of the team's scouts spread across Ladd-Peebles Stadium to watch the small group of players they were tasked to analyze. The time together was valuable for both in their first extended period together away from the facility in Berea.
They not only met with a handful of candidates before Brown ultimately decided to tap Andrew Berry as the team's Vice President of Player Personnel, but also engaged in important conversations that will help shape the Browns' roster in 2016 and beyond.
"You really get a sense of his vision," Brown said. "He was able to chat with us about what he wants to see from some of the positions and share our thoughts and ideas back and forth."
For Jackson, who was engrossed with his own players in Cincinnati until he took on the job with the Browns, this week's practices served as an introduction of sorts to some of the draft's top prospects. While Cleveland's scouts have known about some of these players since the early parts of their freshman years, Jackson was getting his first true glimpses at the likes of North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz, Ohio State wide receiver Braxton Miller, Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland and the rest of the game's top players. It's the last opportunity for these players to prove themselves in a competitive setting against others who are likely to be selected at some point in the draft.
Though draft analysis and projections have become a yearlong endeavor by those in sports media, Jackson stressed it's very early in the process to determine whom the Browns will draft with the second overall pick.
"I think what's important is we get off to a great start evaluating this class of draftees," Jackson said. "Obviously we're going to be major players in the draft. The first opportunity you get to see these guys is the Senior Bowl. To have the chance to come down, watch them practice, watch them compete, and have an opportunity to go and talk to some of these young men at night is just the start of the 2016 draft season."
Behind the scenes, both Jackson and Brown participated in interviews with the more than 100 players invited to this year's Senior Bowl. This part can be just as important, if not more important, than what takes place on the field during the day.
It puts these particular seniors ahead of the game with NFL franchises, as the numerous underclassmen and others who did not qualify for the all-star event won't go through their first interviews with teams until next month's NFL Scouting Combine. Jackson said he likes to get a feel for each player on a personal level and learn what kind of adversity they've experienced in their lives.
"This game is about handling adversity. Things don't always go right," he said. "How fast can a guy bounce back from something that happened in their lives? To me, that gives you a lot of insight into what the person can potentially be because the game of football is not always perfect and the game of life is not always perfect. Some people demonstrate qualities that show you they can get over the hump that way."