On Friday, Browns GM Andrew Berry held his pre-draft news conference. Usually, when he and head coach Kevin Stefanski talk with the Cleveland media nothing of consequence is revealed, however, there were some newsworthy items.
Fifth-year options: Berry confirmed the Browns had exercised the fifth-year options for both quarterback Baker Mayfield and cornerback Denzel Ward. Berry said, “Both had very strong seasons for us in 2020 and we view both of those guys as young players that are continually ascending and are going to be a big part of what we do as we move forward.” It’s nice to have first-round talent the Browns want to keep.
Sheldon Richardson: Berry admitted it was a salary cap decision, but wouldn’t rule out Richardson returning to the team. “Yeah, I think it is certainly possible,” Berry said. “Obviously, it is something that has to work for all parties involved, but we like Sheldon. He was a productive member of our team and a big part of our success last year. If that ends up being the right fit, that alignment is certainly something we would welcome.” Richardson will test the market, however, if another team doesn’t sign him prior to the draft, I could see him returning. Berry also addressed the influx of new players to the defense saying there could be as many as six to nine new starters who did not play for the Browns last year.
Browns Draft Board: Berry stated the Browns draft board started with about 1100 players and now, “consists of 168 players with 114 deemed draftable and 54 players deemed priority undrafted players.” He also said normally the Browns draft board will consist of 115 to 130 draftable players. The Browns list 114 players deemed draftable? Let’s do the math. Seven rounds with 32 teams plus compensatory picks would be 259 draft picks. The Browns currently have 75 players signed to their roster. Hmm, only 114 players deemed draftable, interesting.
Trades: When asked about staying at pick 26, Berry said, “I’m comfortable if we pick, I’m comfortable if we move down, I’m comfortable if we move out.” That’s like asking someone for directions and they say, “Well you could go straight, turn left or turn right.” Excuse me? When asked about trading picks for a player he answered, “The trade market is something we always want to be in.” These two answers are great examples of NFL GM speak.
Draft Strategy: Last year, the Browns were locked in at drafting a left tackle in the first round and a safety in the second round. Andrew Berry had to fill needs. This year he said the team was “emphasizing long term impact rather than instant gratification or needs.” However, he also said, “It’s certainly always nice when a particular need aligns with your draft slot…but your needs today are not your needs tomorrow.”
So what does this all mean?
It means I could make a fortune if I invented an app that translated GM speak. Seriously, the Browns have a firm yet adaptable plan for draft day. Andrew Berry is a measured, but aggressive GM. In my opinion, if he does trade up from number 26, it won’t be a small trade-up. This is currently a very good roster. According to Pro Football Focus, the Browns have the second-best roster in the NFL, behind Tampa Bay. Andrew Berry only needs to draft for depth and future roster spots. Finally, he did caution NFL fanbases everywhere, “If you’re going into the draft looking for a cure-all player, I think that’s a little misguided.”