Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry and Head Coach Kevin Stefanski (5.1.21)

 

Opening statement:

Berry: “I will keep it brief this afternoon, but I actually want to start off by just thanking really everyone across football operations who have worked so hard to execute this weekend throughout the draft. That starts with our college scouts, our coaches and player development staff, our research and strategy group and our contract management team, as well. A lot of individuals have contributed over really the last year and a half for this draft. Really, really pleased with the work that that our entire group has done. We are very excited about the eight drafted rookies that we were able to add over the past three days, and we are excited. Much like really all 32 teams in the NFL after the draft is completed, but we also know the reality of the situation is all of these guys who come in and work and have to earn roster spots and earn a role, and quite honestly, we have a lot of work to do before we get to September and the season opener. We are certainly hopeful and excited about the guys we were able to add to the organization, but we have a lot of work to do before we reach our ultimate goals this season.”

 

On how many bench reps of 225 Stefanski can do:

Stefanski: “Zero. How about that? (laughter) Not nearly enough.”

 

Berry: “He is being modest. You should the workout that (Director of High Performance) Shaun Huls has him on on a weekly basis (laughter).”

 

On if versatility was a separating factor among the prospects selected during the draft:

Berry: “We really went into it to find players who fit their roles within our offensive and defensive systems. Certainly, versatility is an added bonus, but really, we went with prospects that we thought were No. 1 very talented and No. 2 had the physical and mental characteristics to execute their responsibilities within our offensive and defensive schemes.”

 

On if the versatility of LBs Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Tony Fields II will give the defense a better chance to cover hybrid-type TEs:

Stefanski: “I think that is part of it. Versatility shows up in this game in terms of alignment, in terms of your job and what you do. You love guys who can pass rush and drop into coverage. I think you see it across rosters these days. You want to be able to impact the game in multiple ways. At linebacker, certainly, the guys we were able to add this weekend – guys who can run, guys who can play the run and guys who can play in pass coverage and zone – that is a big key to our success as a defense is having a bunch of guys that can do a bunch of different things.”

 

On if the Browns are confident the team has the defensive players needed to better contain mobile QBs outside of the pocket:

Berry: “I guess to answer your question, I know when we had our end-of-the-year press conference, we talked about adding speed really across the roster. I think the NFL more and more is a bit more of a space game. For us, really whether it is the offensive side of ball or the defensive side of the ball, we do want guys who can really run and play in space.”

 

On how excited defensive coordinator Joe Woods has been throughout the weekend:

Stefanski: “Joe has been great. Joe is a great teammate. He is excited about the guys we have added. Joe wants to help the team in any way he can. The way the draft shook out early, there were some guys who we identified and Andrew and his crew went and got, but Joe is a team player all of the way.”

 

On what he, Woods and linebackers coach Jason Tarver were drawing up on the whiteboard after drafting Owusu-Koramoah and if that is a normal practice after selecting a player or was a result of excitement to get Owusu-Koramoah:

Stefanski: “We were playing tic tac toe (laughter). When you get these guys – there is always a possibility that you are adding different players – we are coaches so when you get a guy you run to the whiteboard and you start to talk through the possibilities of where you can align them, no different than what our offensive coaches are doing when you add a receiver. It is just we can’t help ourselves.”

 

On why speed and versatility have been among the top traits the team has looked for when adding players during the past two years:

Berry: ”I think speed really in every phase is certainly the one physical tool or critical factor that can stress the opposition, especially with today’s game. In terms of the versatility aspect, I think it is more of the function that football is a long season and it is a little bit of a war of attrition, and you have to have some level of flexibility with your roster. Also, the more one that player can do, whether it is across responsibilities in the run game and pass game or across different positional requirements, that only makes the job easier for our coaching staff.”

 

On creating more competition in the locker room and on the field during the draft:

Stefanski: ”AB hit on it earlier, we are excited to add these guys to the mix, and then they are competing for a roster spot and they are competing for a role in the offense, defense and special teams. We went into this thing knowing we were going to add seven, eight or nine guys and added eight to the roster, and competition is great. It is always good. Cream rises to the top. I know our team and our veterans are always open to competition. It is what they do every single year. It is what they do every single day. That is how we are going to approach it. To say that these young guys coming in are being given anything, that is not accurate. They have to earn it.”

 

On RB Demetric Felton’s projected role with the Browns:

Stefanski: ”I think he starts in the running back room, but part of the appeal to Demetric was his ability to line up all over, speaking of versatility. We list him as a running back, but we need to get him on campus and see what he can handle and see what he can do. You have plenty of reps you can look at down there at the Senior Bowl where he is lining up all over. That is to be determined in role, but you can pencil him as a running back at this moment.”

 

On if the Browns additions make the team what he believes to be what a modern defense should look like now, given the evolution of NFL offenses:

Berry: ”I do not know I would go that far. I think a modern defense really depends on your philosophy – the organizational philosophy and the coach’s philosophy. I know this, we did everything in our power to make sure that we could acquire talented players who fit the vision Kevin and Joe have for our defense. That is really more of how we try to construct that side of the ball.”

 

On WR Anthony Schwartz and Schwartz’ speed:

Stefanski: ”I think that is one of the things that was appealing with Anthony. Obviously, he has an elite trait and that is speed. He has world-class speed, as you guys know. That is a part of his game that we were excited about. That is why he is added to this roster. Let’s see again where his role can grow. He is a young player. That is the thing with all of these guys, get them on campus, see what they can handle, move them around, see what they can do and use them in different spots. He is a guy who if you have that speed, the corner also knows you have that speed. As you line up, now you can use that to your advantage.”

 

On the Browns’ significant number of defensive additions and the level of competition on that side of the ball:

Berry: ”Our hope is certainly the level of competition, not just on defense but offense and the kicking game, is at a high level really across the roster. We really do believe in breeding competition in every position room. In terms of the defensive turnover – I mentioned this a little bit in January – every year, regardless of where your team is, something like one-third of the roster gets turned over on average. This year is a little bit unique in that we did have more turnover on the defensive side of the ball than on offense. Also, part of that is just a function of where our defense was contractually as we get into the year. We had a number of unrestricted free agents, and many of them were on that side of the ball. We love the guys we brought in this offseason and we are optimistic that they are going to be very capable producers, but I think turnover is pretty typical.”

 

On QB Baker Mayfield working out with some teammates in Florida:

Stefanski: ”I read that, but I am going to really focus on what we are doing here in terms of what we are allowed to do in the offseason program. What they do outside of that really does not concern me necessarily.”

 

On if the Browns will now focus their attention to players who are eligible for contract extensions:

Berry: ”I am going to turn my attention to the undrafted free agent process next. That is the next thing.”

 

On how the defensive additions impact the expectations for Woods and the Browns defense this season:

Stefanski: “All of our coaches, we put high expectations on ourselves. We work really, really hard. Joe and his staff do an outstanding job of preparing our players. It is true that they are going to have to prepare a bunch of new players and we are going to teach the system to a bunch of new guys and reteach it to a bunch of guys. We all have our work cut out for us, but in terms of external expectations or anything like that, I just think it is something that we all recognize the second we walk into this building every day; we are trying to just do everything we can for the Cleveland Browns.”

 

On if Schwartz and Felton can be potential options as return specialists:

Stefanski: “It is certainly something that we have been talking about. We will see again when we get them here what they are capable of.”

 

On the if the decision to not draft an edge rusher was due to how the board fell or confidence in young players like DEs Curtis Weaver and Porter Gustin:

Berry: “I think it is a combination of both. We liked the position group coming into the draft. There were a number of prospects at that position who we also liked, but like I told you guys, we are going to draft with a long-term vision for the team, and ultimately, we are not just going to pick for need or perceived need. The value has to be there, and we have to feel comfortable with whoever we are bringing into the building, but we like our group.”

 

On if T James Hudson can be a swing tackle and how T Chris Hubbard is doing with rehab:

Berry: “Chris is doing great. He is doing great with his rehab. Zero concerns about that. With James, we do think that he has positional versatility across the line. Certainly, we see him as a tackle that can play left and right but maybe can also play a little bit of guard, as well. That is something that, as Kevin has alluded to, a number of guys who we have touched on in the past few minutes, that will play itself out once he actually gets on campus and we see him on the grass.”

 

On how well the Browns executed the team’s initial plans heading into the draft:

Stefanski: “Andrew and the crew did a great job. We stayed true to the board and let the process play out. Andrew talked about it earlier, but there are 32 teams tonight that are going to be celebrating the draft class and they are all going to be very excited. We are excited because we stayed true to the process, but we have to let this thing play out. We will see over the course of years how we did. Certainly, Andrew was outstanding setting the board, conducting these meetings and then staying true to the board over these rounds.”

 

On if Berry has had any moments with a draft and draft board where he passed on plans to ‘wing it’:

Stefanski: “Do you know this guy? Does he look like a ‘wing it’ guy? (laughter)”

 

Berry: “I can’t say that I remember a moment where that was the case.”

 

On how this year’s draft process went for the team when being in the same building while still working primarily from individual offices:

Berry: “I wish I had more of an exciting set up for you. Quite honestly, a lot of the learnings from the fall with being in intensive protocols when you are in the facility but there are a number of things that you have to do virtually, that is largely the process that we employed this weekend. Largely, we communicated on Zoom. The nice thing is all of our offices are within walking distance and are pretty close so if we needed to have smaller conversations or go down to see someone, that was easy enough to do, but just because our draft room was not quite big enough for everyone that we would have in there, we decided how can we be close enough together to share this experience together while also adhering to all of the guidelines and COVID protocols. This was really the best solution where we really operated as if it was a normal day in the office, but for any type of large group meetings, so to speak, we just did it over Zoom. It was nice to have our scouts in, and it was nice to have our scouts and coaches together. It was seamless from an operational standpoint within our draft.”

 

Stefanski: “The only thing I have to add to that is having the scouts, the coaches and our entire group under one roof. A lot of things are still on Zoom, but when you are under one roof, you are hanging out with each other and you are bumping into each other so that collaborative spirit was certainly there with in-person. I think our scouts do such an amazing job, and the work they did this year with the restrictions they had, really happy for them to be in the building and then played a huge part of this thing.”

 

On who was the most frequent dapper after each pick:

Berry: “We are going to say (Chief Strategy Officer) Paul (DePodesta) just because he is not here to defend himself.”

 

On if the Browns could hear cheers in the building when picks were made:

Berry: “I can’t say I did.”

 

Stefanski: “It is much quieter than you think. It is very organized. Andrew does a nice job of letting everybody kind of know where we were going so 10 picks out, ‘Here are the guys we are thinking about.’ Certainly after the pick was made, I know you had some happy coaches after all of those picks.”

 

Berry: “The goal is not to maximize the cheers in the building, it is to minimize the boos (laughter).”

 

On if the planned Browns rookie minicamp would be virtual or in-person:

Stefanski: “That would be in-person.”

 

On excitement to get the rookies in the facility and see them on the field soon:

Stefanski: “It is a big step in their maturation is getting them here. Per the CBA, I think a lot of teams are going to be doing it that weekend as opposed to next weekend. We will get our guys here, plan on getting the rookies and the free agents here, get them out on the field, a lot of meetings and a lot of walkthroughs and then some field work, but it will be just our rookie class – draft picks and undrafted picks.”

 

On the balance of having a fast defense and stout defense with the ability to adjust to opposing gameplans:

Berry: “It is a balance. Let’s take the characteristics of speed and stout, there is a bit of a sliding scale. They come in different packages so it is certainly something that we weigh on both sides of it.”

 

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