When the Cleveland Browns hired GM Andrew Berry at the start of the 2020 NFL offseason, no one really knew what to expect. Would the former Sashi Brown staffer look to tear down everything once again and build through the NFL draft? Would he hold true to his “aggressive” promises made during his introductory press conference? What did he learn from Howie Roseman in his one year with the Philadelphia Eagles?
We have some answers to those questions. No, he didn’t tear it down. Yes, he was aggressive. Berry also seemed to learn a lot about contract structures, how to be aggressive and the art of the trade from Roseman.
We can’t yet answer the question “Is Andrew Berry an elite GM?” but he has proven to be good at his job even if the results on the field have been hit or miss.
The “hit or miss” factor started with Berry’s first-ever selection as the top executive for a team. With the 10th pick in the 2020 NFL draft, the Browns selected OL Jedrick Wills from the Alabama Crimson Tide. Wills moved from right tackle to left and showed decent play as a rookie. Being up and down while changing positions, as a rookie, in the midst of a global pandemic was to be expected.
Since then, Wills hasn’t done much to assuage concerns about his future despite Cleveland picking up his fifth-year option.
Three different sites have recently completed redrafts of the 2020 NFL draft and each site has a different result for the Browns:
10. CLEVELAND BROWNS: T ANDREW THOMAS
Thomas was one of the more improved left tackles in the NFL last season, particularly in pass protection. After taking some lumps as a rookie and allowing 57 pressures (second-most in NFL), Thomas improved his PFF pass-blocking grade by nearly 30 points to 82.1 in his second season out of Georgia. Thomas’ 2021 performance is enough for Cleveland to target him over Wills in this scenario.
Originally, Thomas was selected with the fourth overall pick (the top OL selected) and was not available to Berry with the 10th pick.
10. Browns: Tee Higgins, WR
The 6’4”, 219-pound Higgins is an underrated playmaker and would be the top target on most teams. He doesn’t have the spotlight because he plays next to Ja’Marr Chase, but there are reasons why the Bengals are planning on re-signing Higgins, despite having to also account for extensions for Burrow and Chase. Higgins has had back-to-back seasons of at least 74 catches, 1,000 yards and six receiving touchdowns. The Browns would gladly welcome that type of production.
Higgins was the first pick in the second round in 2020. There were concerns that the big-bodied receiver didn’t have the separation to be great at the NFL level after putting up a ton of production against lesser corners in college. Having Higgins could have kept Cleveland from drafting Donovan Peoples-Jones later in this draft and left a big hole at left tackle during what became a playoff season but given the team a big receiver who has produced right away.
10. Cleveland Browns: Jedrick Wills Jr., OT, Alabama
Right tackle Tristan Wirfs warrants some consideration here, but Cleveland had just signed Jack Conklin in 2020 free agency.
While Wills certainly hasn’t made Browns fans forget about the prime years of Joe Thomas, he’s a strong run-blocker, has been fairly durable (five missed games in three seasons) and has the support of the front office. Cleveland sticks with its original choice.
The final redraft has Wills as the selection despite Tristan Wirfs still on the board. Obviously, Wirfs has been great at right tackle since entering the league but is only now moving to the left side of the offensive line. There was a lot of debate about whether Wills or Wirfs could make the adjustment. At this point, most/all would take that risk and select Wirfs and see if he could adjust better than Wills.
We know Wirfs would likely be most folks' selection but, if he was already picked in a redraft, would you have Cleveland select Wills, Higgins or Thomas?
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