HC Kevin Stefanski (4.23.20)

Head Coach Kevin Stefanski:

On the Browns selecting T Jedrick Wills:

“There are a lot of things I like about this kid. He has played a bunch of games down there at Alabama. He will turn 21 next month. I liked his makeup. I like his tenacity, his toughness, his intelligence, and then not to mention that he is a scheme fit for our team. Great movement skills. Plays with a nastiness. I think we got a winner, and I think we got the right person. I keep coming back to it and it is the truth: just trying to get some good players in here and some good people, and he fits the bill.”


On if Wills’ footwork skills will be a strength during his transition to the NFL:

“Yeah, I think that is a big part of his game is his athleticism. When you are evaluating really any position, the saying is ‘the tape is your résumé.’ When you watch the tape of Jedrick play, it is very evident the type of player he is. What happen postseason with the combine and the workouts, then it just stamped his movement skills that what you saw on tape was legit. I think once we got to know the person and spend some time with him and our coaches spent some time with him, we really felt very comfortable that we were getting a guy that certainly fits our scheme and certainly fits our building.”


On what makes the Browns coaching staff so comfortable that Wills can transition to LT after playing RT in college:

“I am very confident in Jedrick for a bunch of reasons. First and foremost, I point out (offensive line coach) Bill Callahan. I think he is top notch at developing players. This is something that he has done before. Then you have to look at Jedrick’s skillset and you have to look at the makeup of the kid. To some players, it may be a tougher transition than others, but I am very confident that Jedrick has that ability. He has already been working on it. He was down there protecting the blind side of (former Alabama and Dolphins QB) Tua (Tagovailoa) as everybody knows. It is something that he will work at and he will continue to get better, but I feel confident that we have Coach Callahan there to lead that development.”


On what made Wills the best fit from other Ts available at No. 10:

“It is that all encompassing picture of skillset and person. I go back to the tape. The first time you turned on the tape, I could envision this kid playing in our scheme and playing for our team. Certainly, I see the versatility of being able to play both sides. It solidified for us and for me with the postseason, the testing and then more than the testing would be the personality and getting to know him. I do not want to compare him to those guys because that is just really not fair at this point, but I would tell you we are very, very excited to add him.”


On selecting a player from Alabama and logistics with the virtual draft tonight:

“I think that is a great point about playing at Alabama because you know two things: No. 1, he has been coached and he has been coached hard, and then you also know he has gone against some pretty darn good competition down there. That is an important part of an evaluation is watching a player good-versus-good. You did not have to search for a long to find good-versus-good when you are evaluating Jedrick. We feel really confident getting an Alabama guy. The second part, it was seamless, just kind of how we expected it would be. I wish I had some great story for you, but we kind of sat here, watched the board come off and got a guy we really wanted. The phones did not go down and the internet did not cut off. Felt really good about it, and we are excited to do it again tomorrow night.”


On if there are concerns that Coach Callahan will not get as much time with Wills due to this year’s offseason restrictions, how will it impact his transition to LT and if the Browns would remain open to having T Jack Conklin play LT with Wills at RT:

“I think we will leave all options on the table at this point, but I do think we will have the opportunity to work virtually with Jedrick. It will not be ideal like getting your hands on him like you said, but I am really confident in Coach’s ability and in a setting and explaining what he wants to see. There are various ways and we are figuring them out and we are getting creative about how we are sending the guys video of different drills and different techniques that they can do. I believe we will be able to get that done. I am confident because I think Jedrick is already on the way to doing those things. Like I mentioned, he has been well coached. He has been a left side stance before. I think it is just going to be the muscle memory over and over. Like you said, when we do get him, whenever that is, there will still be work to done and we know we are getting a young player so it is going to be a process. It is going to be a process of development, and I trust that we have the guys to get it done.”


On Callahan’s input when evaluating Wills and Ts:

“I think all of our coaches had a big voice. That is where I applaud (Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager) Andrew (Berry) and his crew and how collaborative they have been throughout this entire process. It would have been ideal to have us all in the same building and be together [before the draft] and be together tonight, but we have found ways to make sure throughout this process that everybody was included and involved. Certainly for a pick like this one, we made sure that Coach Callahan was right there throughout the process. [Coach Callahan] has seen it all, and I think his expertise in this area was a big part of this.”


On Wills’ proficiency in run and pass blocking and helping accelerate his transition to LT this offseason:

“I think we are going to have to be creative with this piece of Jedrick’s development, just like all of our players quite honestly. Our coaches are thinking long and hard about different ways to develop the guys virtually and remotely. There are ways to do it. We are going to make sure that we exhaust all the ones we can within the framework of the rules. In terms of Jedrick’s skillset, I think he is a complete player. There was some carry over to the run schemes that they ran that are similar to things that we will run. You see the ability in a downhill offense and the ability in a wide zone offense. I think he is kind of versatile to be able to do both of them. Pass protection wise, I just think he is a technician. I think he can only get better but really liked the use of his feet and his hands in his pass protection.”


On assessing how the Browns Ts have improved dramatically this offseason, regardless of who plays either side:

“I think that is a really good point. We added (T) Jack (Conklin) in free agency and added Jedrick tonight. We will figure it out, I guess is the best way of putting it. Whether Jack is the right and Jedrick is the left, we will figure that out. I like the idea that we added two really smart, tough, versatile football players that will make us better. I am confident that the coaches will put them in position to succeed.”


On if there was ever a sense of nervousness about options at No. 10 and the significance of acquiring not only  a player the team wanted in Wills but one at a position of need:

“I think draft night is always fun. You have done your homework, you have gone through the mock drafts, you kind of have a sense of where guys are going and then you get a surprise. We were sitting there kind of surprised there were no trades in front of us at any point. It is the classic letting the board speak to you. For us, we sat there and most of us were muted for a lot of the time trying to make sure there wasn’t a ton of chatter. I explained it to AB, I said, ‘This is like gameday. You have the headset on. I’m here to help you but I’m not just going to be in your ear and chattering to distract you.’ He was outstanding just like I knew he would be. The communication was really good. It was very calm on there, which I think helps the thinking. There we are at No. 10 and we got a guy that we are really excited to have.”


On if the initial idea is for Wills to play LT?

“Yeah, I think that’s fair to say.”


On if there is a sense of satisfaction with the mentality of protecting a blindside, given Wills played with a left-handed QB at Alabama:

“Yeah, I would say yes, I am. I do think these offensive linemen take it very, very personally when their player gets past them and then hits the quarterback. I think when you are tasked with protecting the blindside of a quarterback, you are tasked with blocking a guy who, if you get beat, the QB may not see it. I think it is a big deal. I think it is something mentality wise that you will get from Jedrick. This guy is a tough dude. I have already texted with (QB) Baker (Mayfield). I think Baker has already texted with Jedrick. I think we will have a guy over there that understands how important that position is.”


On whose NFL film the Browns may want Wills to be watching and if the team could have former Browns T Joe Thomas work with him in-person during the virtual offseason:

“I don’t think you could, no. Now, Joe Thomas as a resource? Yes. One of the best to ever do it? Yes. I will make sure Joe and Jedrick talk if they haven’t already. I think we are uniquely positioned to have a guy like Joe who can be there and explain to any of our young players but particularly an offensive lineman the what to do, what not to do type of thing. Certainly, we will get those guys linked up, but I don’t believe we could have them work out like that. Film wise, we have a library of film. I like to tell the coaches that one of the best ways that our players learn is through film. The nice thing for us is that we have a robust library. We will certainly have him watching tape schematically, but there is no particular player that I would ask him to emulate necessarily. I just want him to kind of get some film of some of the blocking schemes and some of the pass-protection schemes. Certainly, we will have plenty of homework for him to do in that regard.”


# # #