Cleveland Browns general manager Andrew Berry conducted his league-mandated pre-draft press conference on Friday.
While the league requires that every GM speak to the media prior to the draft, there is no subsequent requirement that they actually say anything of substance.
Therefore, what comes out, at least in the case of Berry, is vague comments about quarterbacks who are new to town, ones who will be leaving town soon, free agents that may or may not be landing at team headquarters, and some general light banter.
Still, Berry did offer a few comments relating to the 2022 NFL Draft, which opens on April 28 in Las Vegas, that are worth keeping in mind when next weekend rolls around.
First off, Berry said he is open to the idea of playing the long game when it comes to the draft, even if that means selecting a player that might be working his way back from an injury (quote via a team-provided transcript):
“It is definitely something that we run through. It really is unique to the player, and that is both the talent level, the position and then with your medical staff: What is the injury? What is the prognosis for not just recovery, where they are medically cleared, but also potential for long-term or short-term impact on performance, as well? All of those really come into play. Also, quite honestly, the reality of it is that depending on the injury, if you are giving up a year of the player’s rookie contract, that also has to factor in, as well. Each situation really is unique.”
There are a handful of players at positions of need for the Browns that quickly come to mind under that scenario. Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams, who suffered a torn ACL on January 10 in the national championship game, is likely too talented to fall into the second round. But fellow Alabama wide receiver John Metchie III, who tore his ACL on December 4 in the SEC Championship game, is a candidate to still be on the board when the Browns are up at pick No. 44.
Then there is the case of Michigan defensive end David Ojabo, who suffered a torn Achilles tendon during his Pro Day in March. A projected first-round selection after posting 11 sacks and earning second-team All-American honors last season, Ojabo is now considered a possibility to slide because he likely will not see the field until very late in the 2022 season, if at all.
Berry could be willing to select Ojabo, even if the Browns have to wait a year to see him play, especially if Berry is confident that he will eventually be able to work out a deal with free-agent defensive end Jadeveon Clowney to stay with the Browns.
The Browns do not have a first-round selection this year, or in 2023 or 2024, thanks to the trade for quarterback Deshaun Watson, but that does not mean Berry will clock out early on Thursday evening. While Berry said it is “unlikely” that he will move back into the first round, he will remain vigilant in case a player he likes starts to fall (quote via a team-provided transcript):
“Honestly, it just really depends on how the board falls. Whether it is A: is there a player available who fits a specific profile in terms of their talent and in terms of what their projected impact maybe if they were added to the roster over the length of their rookie deal, and then ultimately, positional scarcity and cost – cost of the actual transaction to really move up or move down the board. All of those really come into play. I wish I could give you a standardized way of thinking through it, but the reality is each situation is a little bit more unique. Candidly, yesterday was our last formal strategy session, we really spend the bulk of this week talking through those types of different scenarios because at this point, all of the evaluations are completed so it is really talking through some of the different tradeoffs, selections you make a different spot or it is some of the different ways you might pivot if the board falls a certain way.”
Finally, while the Browns clearly need help along the defensive line and could still use another solid wide receiver to pair with Amari Cooper, Berry said those immediate needs would not necessarily outweigh the long-term strategy of building the roster (quote via a team-provided transcript):
“It is almost like going to a restaurant hungry. You get familiar with a number of these players, and whether you have two picks or 20 picks, you probably feel like you never have enough. Our approach is more about really just adding as many young, talented guys to the roster that we can. We certainly do have call it certain positional leanings – I will not necessarily disclose those specifics in this setting – but we are a little bit more long-term focused as opposed to short-term focused when we make selections when we are on the clock.”
Cleveland currently has the following seven selections in the draft:
- 2nd Round (No. 44 overall)
- 3rd Round (No. 78) overall
- 3rd Round (No. 99 overall)
- 4th Round (No. 118 overall)
- 6th Round (No. 202 overall)
- 7th Round (No. 223 overall)
- 7th Round (No. 246 overall)
The 2022 NFL Draft will take place from April 28 to April 30 in Las Vegas.