Andrew Berry opened his first draft as general manager of the Cleveland Browns by selecting Alabama offensive tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. on Thursday night.
Saturday afternoon, Berry closed Cleveland’s portion of the draft by selecting Michigan wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones.
In between those selections, the Browns added a starter in the secondary with LSU safety Grant Delpit, and depth at several areas with defensive tackle Jordan Elliott, linebacker Jacob Phillips, tight end Harrison Bryant and offensive lineman Nick Harris.
The weekend continued Berry’s work to add players to the team’s core of young players who fit the philosophy head coach Kevin Stefanski, Berry told clevelandbrowns.com:
“We are pleased that we feel like we were able to add a number of young talented players to the roster this weekend who fit our offense and defensive schemes. We feel like we were able to address a number of needs across the roster on both sides of the ball. And then perhaps most importantly we feel good about adding a number of individuals that embody the tough, smart, accountable culture that we are trying to build upon here in Cleveland.”
While handing out grades to a draft class before they have even done the most basic thing for a team is a bit frivolous, the grades have come in and they are glowingly positive for Berry’s work.
Here is a roundup of what various sites have to say about the Browns selections in the 2020 NFL Draft:
The Browns picked four SEC players in the first three rounds, meeting their top needs on defense with solid value on Day 2. Getting Bryant in Round 4 should also be a good value, as he’s an excellent receiver, albeit not the thickest tight end in the league. Selecting Harris in the fifth round was a solid choice, and it will be interesting to see if the Browns try him at guard or just consider him a backup behind JC Tretter.
The Browns must have been thrilled: The Giants’ surprising selection of Georgia’s Andrew Thomas and the top three quarterbacks getting snatched up in the first six picks left the man they likely had at the top of their board still available at pick No. 10. Jedrick Wills played right tackle at Alabama but has the light feet and athleticism to transition smoothly to the left side. That would allow expensive free agent pickup Jack Conklin to stay at right tackle, where it took him four years to locate a comfortable set of mechanics as a Titan. In today’s NFL, the delineation between left and right tackles means very little (if anything), so the Browns can base these decisions strictly on what’s best for their two players.
If Wills pans out quickly, this Browns offense could suddenly meet the expectations that were placed on it a year ago. Quarterback Baker Mayfield will have the protection he lacked last season and he’ll be playing in a smart, QB-friendly scheme under new head coach Kevin Stefanski, throwing to a more familiar Odell Beckham Jr. and working with a balanced run game headed by Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. That’s a 25-point-per-game type lineup.
On defense, the Browns signed ex-Raider Karl Joseph and ex-Viking Andrew Sendejo in free agency, but only because they wanted to be sure to have a couple of hard-hitting veterans who can immediately patrol the alleys against the run and play match-zone coverage out of the Cover 4-heavy scheme that this new coaching is likely to install. Both Joseph and Sendejo are on one-year deals and it’s likely at least one will be allowed to walk in 2021, given that Grant Delpit is expected to be a full-fledged starter by then (if not sooner). Delpit is rangy and athletically diverse. His draft stock tumbled from a high first-round projection last season after missing too many tackles and taking too many poor angles in run defense. Such mistakes are especially problematic in Cover 4, where the safeties are often solely responsible for a run gap along the edges.
Up front, Jordan Elliott intrigues with his potential as a pass rusher, where scouts believe his development hinges on whether he can continue to build on his effective hand usage. One concern: The Browns don’t have a lot of gap-penetrating depth at D-tackle, and Elliott might not have the initial quickness to change that.
Two quality trades were the cherry on top of a spectacular 2020 NFL Draft for the Browns. They plugged in the lone glaring hole on offense with Wills, who will transition to left tackle after playing high school and college on the right side. He’s athletic enough to make that work. Wills was my OT1 in this stacked class. Baker Mayfield has no excuses to not take a big step forward in 2020. I’ll be buying in fantasy… Delpit is a post-hype sleeper who just needs to get healthy (ankle) to become the first-round talent he showed two seasons ago at LSU… Elliott is an ascending interior pass rusher with 65th percentile Adjusted SPARQ athleticism who happened to slide into the third round. He can be a rotational defensive tackle immediately and has starting-level upside if he gets stronger… Phillips was a tackling machine at LSU (113 tackles) but his 35th percentile Adjusted SPARQ athleticism limits his upside. He’s not very agile and could be exposed in coverage… Bryant was highly productive in college — notice a trend? — but has t-rex arms and 4.73 speed. It’s hard to see where he fits in with Austin Hooper and David Njoku on the roster, although he was good value at No. 115… Harris was a very underrated pick. He’s only 21 years old, yet started four seasons at Washington. His 83rd percentile Adjusted SPARQ athleticism gives him plenty of upside. I bet he starts eventually.
Seems rookie GM Andrew Berry has hit the ground running for a franchise that’s been dysfunctional for so long. He followed up a nice free-agent harvest with what projects as a solid draft, first-round OT Jedrick Wills possibly the man who can finally fill Joe Thomas’ void and second-round S Grant Delpit a potential gem. Given David Njoku is still on the roster, it’s worth asking how many tight ends Berry and new coach Kevin Stefanski need after signing Austin Hooper to a huge contract and drafting highly regarded Harrison Bryant in Round 4.
Pro Football Focus - A+
There were some concerns that there may be a run of tackles prior to the Browns’ selection, but they were left with their pick of the top options sans Andrew Thomas. Wills came in as PFF’s OT3 — and the 11th player overall on PFF’s Big Board — and he was the top tackle on a lot of boards out there, drawing a player comp to Lane Johnson in the PFF Draft Guide. He has special explosion and agility for someone that large and should be able to immediately make an impact in the run game after earning a 90.5 run-blocking grade with the Crimson Tide in 2019.
The Browns were able to pick up not one, not two, but three top-25 players on the PFF Big Board. Two of those players came at selections 44 (LSU safety Grant Delpit) and 88 (Missouri defensive tackle Jordan Elliott), which is a testament to the value Cleveland was able to get.
Tight end Harrison Bryant isn’t athletic enough to pass for a receiver and not strong enough to be a traditional tight end. Unless he transforms his body one way or another, he’ll be in no man’s land in the NFL. He did, however, improve his overall grade every year of his collegiate career and finished the pre-draft process inside the top-150 on PFF’s Big Board.
The Browns had a fine first draft with Andrew Berry and Kevin Stefanski. Wills fills the void at left tackle and Delpit cleans up major safety issues. Elliott and Phillips were good depth picks for the front seven. Bryant is a versatile cog to furher boost a key position for Stefanski after the teams signed Austin Hooper. Peoples-Jones could end up being a steal to complement Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry.
Andrew Berry had a strong first draft as a GM. He addressed the Browns’ two biggest needs with one of the best tackles in the draft in Wills and a safety in Delpit who has special traits in coverage. Phillips may have been the only reach. But they got some good offensive system fits in Bryant and Harris, and Peoples-Jones in the sixth round is a steal. He was the top SPARQ receiver in the draft and despite underperforming at Michigan, he was well worth the pick at that point. Overall, there’s not much fans should be disappointed with in this class.
What do you say, Browns fans? How would you grade Andrew Berry’s first draft as general manager of the Cleveland Browns?
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