On Thursday, just a one week before the start of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns held their annual pre-draft press conference, featuring general manager John Dorsey.
Here are the notes I took:
What About Duke Johnson?
The first nine questions asked by reporters were about RB Duke Johnson, prompting Dorsey to laugh and say, “Y’all want to talk about the draft?”
When he did comment on Johnson, though Dorsey said “we see a lot of stuff for Duke moving forward ... and I look forward to seeing him on the field on Sundays.” Dorsey also said that Johnson understands the role he is going to play for the Browns, and his trade request will not change their mentality on him being a vital part of their offense this season.
Johnson has not been participating in Phase 1 of the team’s offseason workout programs, which are voluntary. But he expects Johnson to be present when the minicamps come around, even though they haven’t talked about that.
What to do During the 1st Round of the Draft
The Browns traded away their No. 17 overall pick this offseason, leaving them without a first-round pick. What are their plans for the first round?
- This Monday and Tuesday, the team will start talking about which prospects they might be willing to trade up into the first round for if they are still available at a certain point.
- Due diligence for any year involves talking to teams in general about how much it would cost to move up, so Dorsey said yes, of course he will do that in advance with teams picking in the back half of the first round.
- For the draft in general, they usually spend about three days playing hypothetical games:
“We do hypotheticals. We ask, ‘OK, what happens if this player is here? What do you think about this?’ You will move the draft board around and eliminate some guys and say, ‘How about if these three guys are here? If we had to move up, what do you think it would cost?’ Little games like that.”
Positions Deep in This Year’s Draft & Safety
Asked about which positions are the strongest in this year’s class, Dorsey named defensive line and wide receiver as being deep. He then started rattling off running back and quarterback depth being deep, and added the safety depth is more than in years past.
Speaking of safety, Dorsey was asked about the additions of Eric Murray and Morgan Burnett. Dorsey said he believes Burnett still plays at the level of a starting-caliber strong safety:
“I think both are very talented football players. With regards to Morgan, I think over the years he has shown his ability to play the game of football. I think he is a nice fit into what (defensive coordinator) Steve Wilks is looking at. With Eric Murray, Eric Murray can play both safety positions. He actually may play a little bit of nickel corner, as well. He is a phenomenal special teams player, too.”
Playing Down Jeffrey Simmons?
There have been some rumors that the Browns really like DT Jeffrey Simmons, whose stock is questionable due to a torn ACL. Dorsey was asked about whether he would take Simmons at No. 49. Dorsey said, “if he was there, you may think about it,” acting as if it’s not something they would jump over. Is Dorsey just playing coy, or is he really not considering him much? Remember, Simmons did come in for a visit, which Dorsey talked about:
“Jeffrey came in for a visit. I had a chance to sit down with him, talk about the past and talk about the steps he has taken at Mississippi State over the course of his career at the school. What we are going to do if there is a possibility that he is there, we are going to sit and talk about it as an organization and make the best decision moving forward and make sure that everybody is comfortable with that decisions moving forward, if it happens.”
- Regarding RG Austin Corbett, Dorsey said, nothing is a given, but he thinks Corbett“is going to make tremendous strides here in the 2019 season.”
- Asked if the Browns need to add some juice to the wide receiver position, Dorsey pointed out that WR Antonio Callaway has some juice.
- He really likes the depth the team has at tight end right now.
- Here is what Dorsey said about second-year DE Chad Thomas: “Usually, guys in the first year into their second year make exponential strides and growth. I see him getting a lot of playing time this year. I could see him getting some rotational playing time and really developing into a really good football player.”
- RB Kareem Hunt has been hard at work: “I could not be happier with how hard he is working in the building. That is all you can ask of him. He is committed to doing the proper steps here in getting this thing moving forward.”