Assistant GM and VP of Player Personnel, Glenn Cook and Assistant GM and VP of Football Operations, Catherine Raiche

What sold you on DT Michael Hall Jr?

Glenn Cook: “Just to talk through the process a little bit. Probably 20 minutes before the pick our phones started ringing and really did not stop. We had to really work through kind of what we wanted to do there. Looking through all the options. I think ultimately it came down to talent. He is a really talented young man. The way I would describe him is a shapeshifter. The way he can move his body, the way he can attack the quarterback. Probably next to (Executive Vice President, Football Operations and General Manager) Andrew (Berry), the most happiest person was (defensive coordiantor) Jim Schwartz. With our attacking style he fits are motto and style. Really excited with his ability upside, and his ability to impact the quarterback. Those are the things to highlight just to start. Really excited to get him.”


Was it a tough decision not to accept a trade?

Cook: “We worked through it. It is funny, I told Cat (Catherine Raiche) when we were sitting there, that we worked through a few scenarios earlier this week. This was one of them. I think we had played it out in our minds and kind of thought through what was the best choice and decision at the time. Ultimately it just came down to the player. Sometimes you just have to sit and collect talent for your team. That is how we thought through it.”


There is a report that says he might be a little light to play in the NFL. What is your response to that?

Catherine Raiche: “I think when you look at how we play the position and how we ask our guys to get off the ball and how athletic and quick you need to be. That is what Michael is going to bring to the table. I mean Jim got on the phone with him and gave him a quiz and he was ready to roll. He is about to be the engine of this defense and I am not going to use the words they used but let’s just say mess things up in the front there. I think that is what he is going to bring to the table.”


Were there more than one player options that the Browns could have taken there?

Cook: “Yeah, I think we felt good about what our options were. We were working through that. Honestly, I don’t think we expected as many calls as we got. So that maybe changed a little bit of how we thought through it. But we felt good about our alternatives regardless of what we needed to do. Fortunately, we did not have to.”


What if DT Michael Hall Jr was not there?

Cook: “We had enough scenarios and enough options to feel good about whatever we chose.”


When you see a bunch of defensive tackles go off the draft board before you guys go up there. How much does that affect the thinking of maybe this is the right time to make a pick?

Cook: “Yeah, I think that is just a part of the calculations that Andrew has to work through in his head as the picks are being made. I think it started early with (DT Washington Commanders Jer’Zhan) Newton, (DT Atlanta Falcons Ruke) Orhorhoro, those guys going off the board (Los Angeles Rams DT Braden) Fiske. You start to think maybe he goes a little bit earlier but I credit Andrew’s (Berry) patience. Not getting too nervous about him potentially not making it to the pick and it worked out. You know sometimes it does not though, that is sort of the risk you take. Again it is a little bit of a calculation. As you get experience in this you kind of get a sense of who is interested and who potentially can take him. Sometimes it is the roll of the dice.”


Raiche: “The thing I would add there is the pass-rush skill set on the interior is really something we were considering. When you look at where the market is going at that position and how these guys get paid that is really something that to have that still on the board at 54 was a great outcome for us.”


So you added DE Quinton Jefferson, DT Shelby Harris, and DT Siaki Ika going into his second year. Can Michael Hall Jr. contribute as a rookie?

Cook: “I think he has to earn it just like are other guys. We would love of he did. Look, you can never have enough guys who can impact the quarterback and impact the passing game. So again he has to come in and obviously integrate himself into the way we do things. We hope he does. I think Andrew has talked about this we try to position ourselves where we don’t feel like we need to force him to do that. This is one of those things where hopefully he reaches his maturity and his peak in a few years, we are not necessarily worried about day one does Michael Hall Jr. come in and play 80 snaps he has to earn it, So day one is just coming in and being on time and being in the right place we will see what it looks like in September.”


Raiche:“I would add Jim (Schwartz) does a great job of keeping the guys fresh and having a good rotation in there. So as Glenn (Cook) said you cannot have too many.”


Catherine to go back to what you were saying. The way defensive linemen are getting paid how are you seeing the profile of this position change especially in the last few years?

Raiche: “It is based off the ability to rush the passer from the outside from the inside, and really it is all across the line now, so getting to the quarterback, and making sure you can impact the game there has just been an emphasis for all teams and guys who can get off the ball, guys that are quick can really bring that to the table. I think are just going to continue to either go off in the draft quickly or just get paid on the open market.”


The fact that he is not even 21 yet, how enticing is that when you are evaluating him with what you see on film?

Cook: “Yeah it is definitely a priority when you’re thinking through who these players will be in Year 1, Year 2, Year 5. The age component, the experience not only with just playing college, but just their full life of football. Again, when he’s doing what he’s doing at 21, you’re hopefully expecting him to only get better. It’s a part of it for sure.”


Did your great experience last year with Dawand and how he seemed to come in here and function so well, did that come into play at all with this decision?

Raiche: “I think it is a credit to our coaches, to our player development staff. One thing we take great pride in is how we get to know these players before they’re in the building and once they are in the building, how we put everything that we can around them to support them and help them develop and hopefully have them as contributors as early as possible. Definitely great experience with Dawand and that is something we want to put in place for every single player that becomes a Brown and Michael is no exception to that.”


Is there something you look at specifically that you say this is something he really needs to zero-in on to really maximize his potential? Is there a specific trait or part of his game that you see currently that fits that build?

Cook: “I mean, you could say that for every guy. So yes, I think all of these guys have something they can work on. I think you can go from Myles, to anyone on our team that is trying to get better at something.”


Specifically, what do you look at?

Cook: “For him, the sky is the limit. Ultimately he has to just come in and maximize what he is. I don’t think anything restrains him from being as good as he wants to be but himself. That’s how I would put it on this player.”


When you have similar grades on players from different positions, what determines the player? Is it your roster that determines who you pick when debating over a LB, WR, and Michael Hall? Is it strictly his talent or do you look at your roster and say he’s liable to help us sooner than the LB or WR?

Cook: “I don’t know that it’s black and white. You probably should anchor your decisions just toward your overall philosophy and I think we try to do that. I would probably be remiss to try and pinpoint it and say Andrew thinks about it systematically this way every single time. I think it’s pretty fluid. Sometimes it’s talent and sometimes it is the state and the nature of your roster and team. Sometimes it’s just the overall value you get or can receive from that player. I don’t know if there is a straightforward yes or no answer.”


There were several receivers on the board that were possible choices.

Raiche: “Yeah we talk about all scenarios as Glenn mentioned earlier. So most definitely in our process it is very collaborative. So when you think about what all goes into that decision, there are just so many elements that go into the integrated projection. Whether that’s what the data or our model is saying, what the coaches evaluated when we had these guys in a Top 30 visit, character information, medical as you know, there are just so many things. So yes, definitely positional value is an element as well, but as we kind of all bake it together it just helps us inform where we are going to go.”


Did you say something about the market of defensive tackles, can you elaborate a little more on that?

Raiche: “Of course. As you saw in the last two years of free agency periods, how high these guys are getting paid now and when they can rush the passer, there has definitely been an elite premium on that skillset. You can think of older rushers, I’m thinking of Javon Hargrave two years ago during free agency when he went to San Francisco. That’s just where the market is going with these players, so when you can find that skillset in the Draft, that is on a cost control for player contract, that gives you a lot of flexibility and gives you the optionality to do other things somewhere else.”


I know it’s not all about sacks, but he had 1.5 last year. Did you see a reason for maybe not seeing production there or what did you see that you thought could be better at the next level?

Cook: “I think we just saw all of the things that we look for at the position. I think I led with his positives. The stats are sort of volatile, especially on the D-line. Sometimes sacks are not indicative. But again, ultimately it’s a production business. We hope he is much more productive than that, but you just hang your hat on the traits and the ability and just some of the other components that we value pretty highly. We think he came out well in those areas.”


Last year your team talked about how important culture was on the defensive side, so when you evaluate character, what stood out to you with Michael?

Raiche: “I think on the front end I would say that the room is super strong from a character standpoint, from a leadership standpoint. It’s just, with guys that we’ve brought in to complete Myles, whether that’s Dalvin or Za’Darius, we have a really strong room there. We feel really good to bring those young guys into this room, that they’re going to have mentors and older players they can lean on. I think Michael’s energy is definitely going to fit right into the culture and how this room is built.”


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