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Andrew Berry: We are going to be prepared

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Browns general manager confident that team can navigate the upcoming NFL Draft despite new format.

NFL: Combine Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Browns general manager Andrew Berry delivered a reassuring message to Browns fans on Friday.

The team will be ready for whatever may come its way during the 2020 NFL Draft.

Berry, who has been preparing for his first draft as a general manager, took time out of his schedule on Friday for a conference call with the media. And while the ongoing coronavirus situation has forced the NFL to make changes to draft weekend, Berry said he is taking everything in stride, according to clevelandbrowns.com:

“I think it is just more different, right? It is more a different environment than any team has operated under, but all teams have faced the same challenges. From my perspective, we are going to be prepared and ready to go regardless of the circumstances. I feel confident that we are going to have a very high-quality draft.

“My phone, if it was not already attached to my hip, it certainly is now. We are fortunate to live in an age of technology so it has not disrupted the work product or workflow from that standpoint. Look, obviously, you miss a little bit of something with not being able to engage with people in person, but it really has not slowed the free agency or draft process from my perspective. We felt very prepared going into free agency, and we feel very prepared at this point in the draft process. It has had its challenges, but we have navigated them pretty well.”

Berry makes a good point. Even if the draft was still taking place in Las Vegas as originally planned, Berry would be at team headquarters making the picks and calling them in via phone. So despite the ongoing handwringing from some corners, the changes for this year’s draft are more of excuse for some teams, as opposed to a real obstacle.

The situation will be the same if a trade opportunity comes up, Berry explained, according to the team’s website:

“If you think about it through a normal situation or a normal draft, a lot of those trades are executed by phone. We are still going to be on the line with the league office. We will still are going to be on the line with other teams. From that standpoint, absent if there was a power outage or something along those lines from either of the two clubs, I think that is something that is going to operate largely the same on draft weekend.”

The Browns are widely expected in most mock drafts to fix the gaping hole at left tackle when they are on the clock in the first round with the 10th overall selection. While Berry obviously did not reveal any preferences, he did say the Browns may not get hung up on which side of the line a tackle lined up at in college, according to the team’s website:

“Honestly, I think the distinction between left and right tackle is really outdated. We are no longer in the days of football where teams will have their best rusher and line him up on the defensive right side and offensive left side of the formation. Really, the game is not played that way. From my perspective, tackles are tackles. In terms of guys making the switch, certainly, there is an element of muscle memory that needs to be reprogrammed, so to speak, for people who have played one side or the other for a long period of time.

”I think the requirements of both the left and the right tackle in today’s sport are just as challenging. You are going to face top rushers every week at both spots. You are going to have to pass protect at both spots. You are going to have to create movement in the run game at both spots. It is certainly a challenge that both guys will face.”

The draft is not the only event on the NFL calendar that has been impacted. Teams still do not know when they will be able to start the usual offseason OTAs or when training camp will open.

That uncertainty will not factor into the team’s decision making when it comes time to select a player on draft weekend, Berry said, according to clevelandbrowns.com:

“In terms of that question about NFL readiness or ceiling in particular, for me, the draft is largely about trying to find some longer-term solutions to your roster because you do have these players under contract for multiple years at a pretty cost effective amount. The idea that you are taking players to come in and hit the ground running, very few rookies do that.

“That is not to say that there are not some that do or will, but that really won’t be our organizational mindset as we enter the draft about ‘OK, who can perform at a Pro Bowl level Day 1?’ History tells that it is very rare and not usually the case, and all the players that we take Day 1, Day 2 or Day 3, we are hopeful can become longer-term members of the organization.”

The NFL Draft will take place April 23 through April 25.