HC Kevin Stefanski (4.25.20)

Head Coach Kevin Stefanski:

Opening statement:

“I know the draft is ongoing. We do not have any picks in the seventh round so it looks like we are done picking. I really was pleased with how these last three days have gone. This is the culmination of a lot of hard work. First, I will point out the work of our scouts. Those road scouts, wish I could have been with them this weekend, but this is definitely the fruits of their labor. We went armed with a ton of information and that is to their credit. The whole personnel group and the coaching staff, it takes a lot of people to put this thing together. I think armed with all that information, I think we have some guys that we are excited to bring into our building. I think we got better on both sides of the ball, and I think we added some guys that we are looking forward to developing. I do not think any of the guys we added are finished products. That is the fun part in getting to work with them. Obviously, that will start virtually and remotely and then eventually that will turn into being hands on with them, God willingly sooner rather than later. Pleased with how it went. You can never predict it, but I thought the plan was sound. Kudos to (Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager) Andrew Berry and his crew.”


On if he received advice from his dad, Detroit Pistons Senior Advisor of Basketball Operations Ed Stefanski this weekend:

“I would say a lot of free advice and a lot of feedback (laughter). He loves athletes. There were players that he was sending me links to their Pro Day or links to their highlight tape. He wants very badly to be on staff with the Browns. Unfortunately, we do not have a spot for him (laughter). I did talk to him a bunch this week. The draft, whether NFL or NBA, that is the fun part. He certainly loves the NBA Draft, and I can tell you he enjoyed watching his Browns this weekend.”


On if the Browns addressed what they desired in the draft and if there were any ‘stones left unturned’ in improving the roster this weekend:

“I think you are always looking to improve the roster. Certainly, you look at some of the spots that we said we wanted to get younger and we wanted to bring in some competition at some of these positions so we did that. At the same time, you never know how the board is going to turn out and you may take a guy that you never thought would be there at that given moment. Really at the end of the day, if you trust the board, you are usually right. There is a reason our scouts and coaches work this hard. There is a reason we put this board together. I think to the group’s credit, we really stuck to that board.”


On drafting TE Harrison Bryant and if the TE room is becoming overpopulated:

“To the second part, I do not think so. I really think there is a way to get all these guys on the field – sometimes at the same time and sometimes not. I just think there is versatility in that position. I think being able to move guys around the formation is a very big deal. I think keeping teams in base defense can be helpful at times. Not every game but sometimes you go into a game and you like to keep them in their base scheme with three linebackers on the field and keep them out of their nickel sub-packages, which can a lot of times bring some exotic pressures. There is some thought to that. Also, just the value of the pick. We think this kid is a pretty good football player. He was available at a spot that we thought it was worth taking him. It is our job – my job and our coaches job – to make it work with the guys we have. The more we have in the room, the merrier.”


On if the Browns’ collaboration and being on the same page reflect in how selections fit the team’s scheme:

“Am I allowed to mention it again (laughter)? I do not know if it is some mystery, but I think Andrew and I see this thing very similarly. When we are talking about this draft, we have some cultural non-negotiables and then we have some schematic non-negotiables. I think the coaches and scouts did a nice job of identifying the guys that fit those two things. Andrew and I had some great discussion throughout the spring and throughout the last couple days, along with our group on our call. It was a collaborative effort, but I would not call it anything surprising. We all knew the work that was put into this. We all knew kind of where we stood on a bunch of issues. I think that has occurred from having conversations the last couple of months.”


On the draft ultimately needing to be a collaborative process but that not necessarily occurring with every organization:

“I do not know. I know how we do it. I will tell you, we do not agree on everything. There are always some good conversations, and they have occurred even in the last couple days. We encourage pushback from each other. We do not want a bunch of ‘yes men.’ I do not want a bunch of ‘yes men’ on our coaching staff. The best offensive staffs I have been part of push back on each other and they challenge each other. That is kind of the spirit in which we are doing this thing.”


On the Browns’ most significant big-picture accomplishment from the draft, Berry during his first draft as GM and what he may have learned about Berry during the process:

“Big picture, probably need a couple of days to think about that. Every game, you go in with a gameplan, and then you get hit with something and you have to adapt – an injury happens and you have to adjust. I think we went into this draft with a similar gameplan and idea. I can tell you, there were times when there were guys on the board and we did not think they would be there or there were times you were thinking of trading up and it did not work or you wanted to trade back and it did not work. I was really impressed with how Andrew was able to navigate these last three days because it can be stressful, as you can all imagine. It is more stressful than gameday, I told him. I think he did a great job. I think he is built for this. He has the right demeanor. He has the right amount of intelligence. He could not get into Penn, but again, not going to hold it against him (laughter). I was very impressed with how he operated. He knew when to have everybody be very quiet, and he knew when to take in input. He looked like a seasoned vet to me.”


On WR Donovan Peoples-Jones’s anticipated role with the Browns:

“With Donovan, we got a player that has played outside and inside. I think there is versatility with this player in terms of where you can play him in the formation. Having return ability and having a history in the return game helps. I do think he has the physical skillset to be a special teamer. There is a lot this kid can do. Then, it is going to be a matter of him showing it to us. That is the exciting part where I can get him with (pass game coordinator/wide receivers coach) Chad O’Shea, who has a lot of history with a bunch of different types of wide receivers. With Donovan, his numbers do jump off the page at you, and we all know that. It is our job and his job to get everything we can out of him if we want to get the best version of Donovan Peoples-Jones. I recognize I do not want to say something too nice about a Michigan Wolverine (laughter).


On how the team’s offense has been transformed with selections this weekend:

“In terms of the offense, I just go back to when we first got together back in January and we talked about the type of person and the type of people we were going to add to this thing. I think we have been consistent in how we have done that. Just because we added players guarantees us really nothing. That is where the work comes in right now with the coaches and the players in this virtual offseason. We have a ways to go. We are definitely not where we want to be, but I am appreciative of the group we have been able to put together to this point.”


On if he talked to offensive line coach Bill Callahan about C Nick Harris and the possibility of Harris playing G:

“Yes, I have talked to coach Callahan about all these guys. We do think there is some position flexibility with Nick. He is a talented player. There is a very obvious schematic fit with his movement skills, He is a tough,  tough player and plays through the whistle and his athleticism is on display. I really like the make-up of the person. Once we get our hands on him and teach him this system, we will see exactly where he fits, whether it be center or guard.”


On the marriage of analytics and football during the Browns’ draft process:

“The team I came from, the Vikings, they use analytics. I think all 32, I’m assuming, use it. How they use it varies. Where in the process of the evaluation they use it varies. We have our own way of doing it. I will tell you this: we make sure that it is an integrated approach. It is never one thing. It is a tool just like obviously the evaluations by the scouts, and what you see on tape is still the precedent. Certainly, we use it in the integrated approach to how we do things. I know we have our way, and I will just tell you all 32 are to some degree using all the information you can, which makes sense to me. If you are making decisions like this, you want really to have all the information at your fingertips.”


On if there were intense draft discussions where someone may have been ‘pounding the table’ for a player, even during a virtual draft:

“There were, and I think what happened was you would be 10 picks away and we would talk about the names of the players we were thinking about – ‘Alright, there are four players we are thinking about’ – and open it up for discussion and go to bat for a guy. Those are the fun discussions. You can make a lot of headway there when you do that and you make sure everybody is comfortable sharing their opinions. I can promise you that we have guys that see some players differently. You are never going to pick all consensus picks in a draft. That just doesn’t happen, but I think we were very respectful of everyone’s opinions, and there are definitely times when people disagreed. That is just the nature of this thing. That is where I think when you have a leader like Andrew through these last three days, he is able to take in all the information and then make decisions based on what he thinks is in the best interest of the club.”


On the impact of adding players who fit the team’s scheme, in addition to their talent:

“There is a certain style of offense, a certain style of defense and definitely a certain style of special teams for the Cleveland Browns. When we are going out, we want to see if we can identify the guys that can play to that style. I will say this: we wouldn’t be very good coaches if we eliminated good players just because they couldn’t fit. There are some schematic mis-fits, but I think a lot of times, there are guys that you say, ‘Well, he doesn’t do this perfectly, but he does this so well. We could definitely make it work.’ That is our job to make it work. I think that is where we have those conversations early and often about what their traits are and what their skillset is. Then we recognize that none of these guys are perfect so what trait are we willing to value more than the others is kind of the conversations that have come up over the last couple of months.”


On the Browns not drafting a DE and if that can be viewed as a commitment to DE Olivier Vernon in 2020:

“That is my assumption. Obviously, I think Olivier is a really great player. Unfortunately, he was banged up a little bit, but we look forward to all our guys contributing next year. I wouldn’t say it was a message of any sort  in the fact that we didn’t draft defensive ends. We are not in the business of sending messages via the draft. We just kind of – going back previously –trusted the board, and as the players came up, we made sure that we had the right people for the job.”


On the first week of the Browns’ virtual offseason program:

“I thought it went really well. I think the guys are definitely responding to the coaches. We as coaches are figuring out new ways to do this thing, and I have really challenged the coaches to think outside the box and think creatively of how we can reach these players remotely. The feedback I have from the players has been very positive. We are working really hard to teach these systems to the guys and making sure that they are getting the information. Now, at this point that we are able to have interact interaction with them, we can have Zoom calls where they can ask questions and we can test them and see what is making sense. I think it has been really helpful. So far so good. The nice part is we have nine more weeks of this, and God willing, at some point during those weeks we are together in the building with the guys. I do think there is a lot of work to be done in the classroom because as I’m sure you all know, these offensive and defensive systems, as you teach them, we are going to take our time and we are going to be the teachers that coaches are. Our job right now is to find as many ways as we can to get this information across to them. As I told the players, it doesn’t matter what I know and it doesn’t matter what the coaches know; it matters what our players know.


On if the team has hosted Zoom calls with 50-70 players:

“We have done that. A lot of smaller Zoom calls, though. It is a little bit more conducive to teaching and learning, but we have had some bigger calls, yes.”


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