At noon on Wednesday and just a little over a week before the start of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns held their annual pre-draft press conference, featuring Sashi Brown, executive vice president of football operations, and Andrew Berry, vice president of player personnel.
Here are the notes I took:
Benefit of 1 Full Year of Working Together
* Both Sashi Brown and Andrew Berry emphasized how they feel really good about the full year that they and the rest of the staff had. It allowed them to fully implement their scouting process. Also praised the staff for things that go unseen from the public eye, like spending months away from their families on the road to evaluate players and dig in on who prospects are as people. They felt good about last year, but feel even better about this year.
Insight Into Their Draft Evaluations
* A little insight into evaluating this draft class: the process began last spring, and they start with a scouting database of about 8,000 prospects across all levels of college football. They then trim it down to roughly 175 players who they deem as "draftable." As far as being comfortable with their process, they’ve already started work on the 2018 NFL Draft class -- when they go to these Pro Days, they collect information on prospects who will be available next year.
* They do quite a bit of scenario-planning to have a gauge of the 11 picks that will be made before Cleveland is on the clock at No. 12 overall. Sashi said that right now is really the time when you can do digging and get a grasp of who teams are really after. Despite that, he acknowledged the obvious: they'd like to think that every year, they know exactly how things will turn out, but they (and nobody) really does -- there's always a surprise in the Top 10, whether it be a surprise pick or someone moving up.
Facilitating Debates and No. 1 Overall Pick
* They've received calls from teams wanting to trade for the No. 1 overall pick. However, Sashi Brown said, "We feel really good about picking at No. 1, though (smiling), and I'll leave it at that." Someone later asked again about trading down from No. 1, and Sashi responded, “That would surprise me if we traded down again this year.” They will not officially announce the selection until they are on the clock. Unless they are purposely deceiving us, every comment, remark, and facial expression in the press conference confirmed that it’s Myles Garrett.
* They aren’t thrilled about the idea of turning two picks into one (i.e. trading up), but also acknowledged they are open to it and in position for it if the right scenario came about.
* While going through their processes, they purposely facilitate an environment where not everyone agrees on players, so they can have good discussions and make sure they aren't missing anything. Even if they all agree, they'll look for those "what if" type of scenarios just to push each other.
* Regarding the Garrett or Trubisky rumors at No. 1 overall (via an Adam Schefter report last week), Sashi said they don't get flustered by those types of rumors. He said that the LA Rams dealt with the same thing last year with people asking them about Goff or Wentz at No. 1, and that the rumors are just part of the territory of owning the No. 1 pick. When Mary Kay directly asked about the divisiveness reported, Brown said that it was false.
* Said that Gregg Williams came in with his staff and hit the ground running -- have been able to add valuable insight to the scouting process. They are pleased with the collaboration at all levels of the organization, and are very prepared for next week's draft.
* They look forward to Brock Osweiler being here and having the chance to be the team's starting quarterback. Regarding whether the team plans on trading for a veteran quarterback, the answer was “no.”
* Perhaps the funnest part of the presser came when someone asked about QB Jimmy Garoppolo:
#Browns VP Sashi Brown shying away from Jimmy Garoppolo rumors. "We don't have the Patriots on speedial, but Mary Kay does"— Damon Kecman (@DownWithDamon) April 19, 2017