Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry (4.30.21)

 

Opening statement:

“I am going to ask you guys a question: Is this a fever dream or did the Browns actually trade up and draft a linebacker? I am curious (laughter). In all seriousness, (LB) Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and (WR) Anthony Schwartz, excited to add both guys to the roster. I think probably the theme of Day 2 of the draft with these two players really is speed. Jeremiah, a versatile defensive player, can produce from multiple alignments, a high motor, great range, a quick processor and he is a perfect schematic fit for us at the linebacker position. With Anthony, I think everybody on here knows that he has world-class Olympic speed. He was a player who really impressed us throughout the spring process. Very, very smart. A very quick study. I think his best football is in front of him, but he has all of the characteristics we desire for a player to be a real primary vertical presence in our offense. We are excited to add both of those guys to the team.”

 

On Chief Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta saying there was a lot of pacing happening in the building before the team traded up to get Owusu-Koramoah with the potential growing concern another team might pick him:

“I think we probably had a building of maybe 30 people all pacing together (laughter). We certainly did not expect him to be there when he was. We are fortunate he was and think he is going to add something to our team.”

 

On if it was an immediate attraction knowing Owusu-Koramoah’s skillset and his fit in the Browns defense:

“Yeah, it was. We really do see him as the classic fit in this defense at WILL linebacker because of his range, speed and coverage ability. I think the other thing with Jeremiah is his versatility, as well. They really walked him out as really a nickel, a dime, played him at WILL and played him at MIKE so that allows us to get creative when we get into some of our different personnel packages. It makes it very difficult for the offense to identify the front.”

 

On how he ensures he does not let himself get distracted by external praise and remains himself while being focused on continuing to be successful in improving the Browns roster:

“I guess to be quite honest, the praise does not really mean a whole lot because quite honestly, nothing has really happened on the field. I like there is a ton of excitement around the team, and the bulk of the credit goes to our players last year and our coaching staff for bringing it all together as a team. The reality of it is we have added players and made roster decisions that we think give us the best chance at having a very successful season, but I think I have been in the NFL enough years to know that all that does is give you a chance. Every year is really unique and different. Sometimes, the best-laid plans do not come to fruition. We are optimistic. We like the guys we have added, but really, it does not amount to anything at this point.”

 

On if he has intel as to why Owusu-Koramoah was still available in the middle of the second round:

“I really think a couple things. One, I will preface it by saying I am not in the other 31 draft rooms or I have no idea how any of the other teams had Jeremiah stacked on the board. I do think Jeremiah is a little unique in the manner in which he produces so he is not going to necessarily be everybody’s flavor or fit. You are talking about a player who is a little bit undersized for a classic linebacker. You are talking about a guy who was used in a variety of roles at Notre Dame, and that is not necessarily going to be the right fit or maybe quite as highly valued of a skillset depending on the defensive system. All I can say is for us in (defensive coordinator) Joe’s (Woods) scheme, everything he does well marries with what we want our linebackers to do in this defense. We are optimistic that he can come in and produce as long as he is a Cleveland Brown and really play comfortably in a manner that allowed him to be so effective at Notre Dame.”

 

On how Schwartz can fit in immediately with the Browns WR room:

“In terms of an immediate role, that is something that has to be earned. It has to be earned by really all of our rookies and all of our additions this offseason. That is something that is also decided by Kev (Head Coach Kevin Stefanski), AVP (OC Alex Van Pelt) and CO (pass game coordinator/wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea). What I can tell you is what attracted us to Anthony is his ability to stretch the field. I think that is something that we felt coming out of last year, especially with (WR) Odell’s (Beckham Jr.) injury, is a dimension that was not quite as strong as when Odell was healthy throughout the year. Anthony certainly gives us multiple guys with the ability to really stretch the field vertically. The other thing is Anthony I think is actually still very early on in his development curve as a player. He is incredibly smart, really, really smart from a football standpoint. He can play outside, can play inside and has the speed that can stretch deep.”

 

On what it takes for the Browns to trade up and if it was unique for the Browns to trade up tonight to select Owusu- Koramoah:

“Really, each situation is case by case. It depends who is on the board, what position and ultimately, if we think there is value in the actual trade compensation. We certainly have moved back more often than we have moved up, and I think it is probably safe to say that will hold over the course of the long term. That being said, I am being honest with you guys when I say we are flexible moving up or down the board if the situation is appropriate.”

 

On trading up today to select Owusu-Koramoah compared to the ability to stay at No. 26 to select CB Greg Newsome II yesterday:

“Just based on how we view Jeremiah as a prospect and as a fit within our defense, we thought if there was a player that we could secure for pricing we could stomach and feel good about, that was really in our best interest. Really, it was as simple as that.”

 

On how special of a LB and strong of a fit Owusu-Koramoah needed to be for the Browns to trade up in the second round, particularly given the Browns are viewed externally to not value LBs as highly:

“I guess I would push back on the notion that we do not value linebackers. It is an important position on the field. The first order of business is to acquire players. In Jeremiah’s case, we did think the fit was really good schematically, but we just thought the overall player was a high-quality prospect. I hesitate to use the words ‘special’ because again, we have to see how it all plays out. We certainly like him as a player and we think he has tremendous upside and tremendous ability to produce within the system, but at the same time, we are also measured and realistic with our expectations of him.”

 

On if there were any medical concerns with Owusu-Koramoah that may have contributed to him being available in the middle of the second round, particularly since Owusu-Koramoah did not run a 40-yard dash at his pro day:

“I can’t begin to speculate in terms of what made him I guess allegedly drop, but I can say that we were very comfortable with him from a medical standpoint.”

 

On when the Browns realized last season that this offseason would be more focused on adding to the defense:

“Quite honestly, that is something that we really looked at I guess call it a year and a half ago. We knew that going into the 2020 season our primary focus would be on the offensive side of the ball, and first and foremost, supporting the quarterback and making sure that the quarterback got the support that he needed to be as effective as possible. The reality is that any given offseason, you are only able to do a certain level of investment, given the resources that at your disposal, whether it is picks, whether it is cap space or whether it is cash that you are allowed to spend. We felt good about that unit. We felt good that we were able to keep a large part of it intact. Naturally, this offseason has had a little bit more of a defensive lean because we did realize that that is not an area that had been as heavily invested over the past couple of offseasons. Now that being said, I would not say that there was any type of aha moment. We felt like there were a number of positions coming out of last year that we could or we would need to add talent and competition, but I guess really maybe the short answer to your question is this roster construction was largely done with the two-year plan in mind.”

 

On if the Browns will try to roll late-round picks into next year and if that has been more difficult to do than past seasons:

“We could. I guess I push back on the notion that it is any more difficult than previous seasons. If you are thinking about relative to last year for us, the reality of generating future draft capital is more difficult when you are picking lower in the round than when you are picking higher in the round just because again your picks are less valuable than when you are picking in the top 10. Again, that does not prevent us from adding picks in 2022 and 2023, but just the right situation has to arise.”

 

On if Owusu-Koramoah can be a game-changer on defense:

“I guess I would hesitate to call any rookie a game-changer. All of these guys are going to have a long way to go before they become productive pros. Jeremiah for us, we love his motor, we love his speed and we love his tenacity. He produced in a variety of ways at Notre Dame, and we view him having a role in our defense.”

 

On DePodesta saying the defensive staff was drawing up ways to use Owusu-Koramoah as soon as the selection was made and if some of those designs may have been to defend Ravens QB Lamar Jackson:

“That is something you will have to ask Kevin, Joe and (linebackers coach Jason) Tarver. One of the many strengths that Jeremiah has is his versatility. I feel fortunate that we have a pretty creative defensive staff that can use him in a variety of ways.”

 

On the Browns seeming to also focus on personality and chemistry with the team’s new defensive acquisitions in free agency and the draft:

“I think we talked about this a year and a half ago that our focus is not just on collecting talent but building a team. I think that starts with the type of people who you bring into the organization. We talk about smart, tough and accountable, and we want guys to embody those characteristics. That does not mean that every guy is perfect and every guy has not had challenges in the past, but we want guys who are team-oriented, passionate about ball and again, smart, tough and accountable.”

 

On Owusu-Koramoah’s response to falling out of the first round being professional, understanding and grateful for his opportunity to join the Browns:

“I did not hear the response, but it does not surprise me that he handled it well and professionally. That is consistent with what we learned about him throughout the draft process.”

 

On if the Browns have been able to successfully execute their roster management strategy and plan as the team hoped when building the team over the past two offseasons, despite external circumstances impacting complete control:

“I think that is fair to say, and no plan gets executed to perfection as you alluded to, but it is an incredible credit to our scouts, our coaches, our research and development group, our player development staff and our contract management team because it really does take an team effort and a collaborative effort for us to execute on any transaction, let alone the volume of transactions that we have done the past few offseasons. We are excited. I think the team is coming together and the shared vision that we all have, but to be quite honest, we still have a lot of work to do. We have a lot of work to do, and we have a lot of time before we get to August and training camp and to September when we are playing games. We are pleased with where we are at this point, but it is by no means a destination.”

 

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