AFC North

Berry & Stefanski Look Good in First Draft

Grant Delpit. Photo by Tammy Anthony Baker. CC BY-SA 2.0

As we bring the 2020 NFL Draft to a close, one which saw a completely retooled presentation format due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an understanding that the more things change the more they stay the same. Particularly in Cleveland, where the draft is almost always designated as “our Super Bowl.” Primarily because after the dust settles from this annual late-April draft extravaganza, there normally isn’t much else to be optimistic about around “The Land.”

In another case of nothing new really happening in the city by the lake, the Cleveland Browns once again enter a draft with a NEW head coach and a NEW general manager. In both cases, these men are rookies at their respective positions within the organization. However, the reaction from fans is a simple waft of that all-too-familiar scent of excitement and hope that tends to hover and linger over the town. At least until the season kicks off. All things considered, GM Andrew Berry and head coach Kevin Stefanski provided the Browns and their fans with what most feel was a very solid first draft for the lesser experienced duo.

In the weeks leading up to the draft, much was made of the potential deal that would have brought former Washington Redskins All-Pro tackle Trent Williams to the Browns. The idea of adding a lineman of his ilk was very intriguing, but Cleveland ended up sticking to their guns and opting to not pull the trigger on such a transaction.

Instead, Berry and Stefanski allowed the first round to materialize accordingly while patiently waiting for their guy to fall to them at the tenth pick. With that pick the Browns selected tackle Jedrick Wills of Alabama. While having played right tackle for the Crimson Tide, Wills is going to make the switch to left tackle and become the blind-side protector of quarterback Baker Mayfield. A huge need filled by a huge individual in the first round.

Day two of the draft focused on defense as the second round saw Cleveland trade back with the Indianapolis Colts from pick 41 to 44, where they selected safety Grant Delpit from LSU. Delpit seemed to tumble a bit in the draft as he was noted to have a first-round grade by many. While some attributed his falling stock to tackling issues in his final season with the Tigers, it should be noted that Delpit played a good portion of the season with a sprained ankle that slightly affected his abilities.

The Browns again traded back in round three, dropping 14 spots and nabbing the 88th pick from the New Orleans Saints. With that selection, the Browns invested in defensive tackle Jordan Elliott from Missouri then followed up with another SEC selection, taking linebacker Jacob Phillips from LSU with their pick at 97.

Heading into day three the Browns chose to focus on the offensive side of the ball, a decision that had some scratching heads but still trusting in the process of Andrew Berry. With their selection at 115 in round four, Cleveland added depth to the tight end position and acquired Harrison Bryant from Florida Atlantic. The Browns again went to the well of offensive linemen and selected Nick Harris, a center from Washington, with pick number 160 in round five. Finally, in round six (having vacated their selection in round seven in their earlier trade with the Saints), Cleveland chose to go with a wide receiver who had been dropping precipitously down the draft. Donovan Peoples-Jones of Michigan brings skills that some scouts claim will translate better to the NFL than what he demonstrated in college.

Overall, it appears Berry and Stefanski performed well for their first experience of conducting a draft. Of course, time will tell if any of the players chosen will indeed live up to their expectations. Kudos to the new front office though, they stuck to their plan and executed the way they anticipated. They let the flow of the draft dictate what direction they’d steer the ship, didn’t panic or reach, and ended up with a cadre of players that compliment the existing team in brown and orange.

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