The Browns once again welcomed in a new tandem after firing general manager John Dorsey and coach Freddie Kitchens. Andrew Berry, newly appointed GM, and Kevin Stefanski, the new coach after spending years at various positions with the Vikings, have generated plenty of excitement in the first few months of their tenure.
In free agency, Cleveland added prized acquisitions tight end Austin Hooper and offensive tackle Jack Conklin. The Browns also secured their backup quarterback: Case Keenum. Cleveland filed remaining holes at offensive tackle and safety via the 2020 NFL Draft.
The Browns started with the No. 10 pick, a prime position for Berry to add one of the top-four offensive tackles. He was able to secure Alabama’s Jedrick Wills and maneuvered well through his first draft as a full-time general manager.
The Browns' complete 2020 draft class:
- No. 10: Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
- No. 44: Grant Delpit, S, LSU
- No. 88: Jordan Elliott, DT, Missouri
- No. 97: Jacob Phillips, LB, LSU
- No. 115: Harrison Bryant, TE, Florida Atlantic
- No. 160: Nick Harris, C, Washington
- No. 187: Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, Michigan
Berry: “I don’t know that it is really fair to compare prospects. What I can say for Jedrick is here is an individual who came in as a true freshman, was a contributor at perhaps the most competitive program in college football, as a true sophomore and a true junior and was really the blindside protector for the program and consistently matched up against edge rushers in the most competitive conference in college football. What he was able to do at such a young age over an extended period of time was certainly impressive to us, as well as just all of the people that we spoke to around the Alabama program including coach [Nick] Saban. We just felt that he checked all the boxes for us coming into this weekend.
“I do think that there is going to be some physical reprogramming or gaining a little bit of comfort. From our perspective with Jed, the reason that he was playing the right side at Alabama is that they had a very successful left-handed quarterback. In terms of the actual physical skillset — his speed, his athletic ability and his ability to pass-protect — all of those are top-notch from our perspective, and we think that he can really play either side of the line of scrimmage.”
Analysis: After signing Conklin to a three-year, $42 million deal, the Browns still had a huge void at left tackle. With Cleveland so analytically driven, it came as a surprise to see Wills taken over the more athletic Wirfs. Wills walks through the door as more of a ready option, but the upside of the Wirfs exceeds what Wills could eventually become. In the end, the Browns felt as if they needed as a prospect that could step in and play right away, which raises another concern that will be interesting to monitor.
Wills hasn't taken a single snap at left tackle. He's spent all three years of his career at Alabama on the right side. It's risky to assume that he will be as effective switching over, but Cleveland felt comfortable with his projection moving to the other side. Wills is assured to be a Day 1 starter as he completes the overhaul of the exterior offensive front.
Question: What separated Delpit in this safety class and does the tackling issues concern you?
Berry: “What set Grant apart is one, his track record. He is a very accomplished college football player, and then — I know I have mentioned it a couple of times — the versatility because he can wear a variety of hats and perform them all at a very high level. That is just a skill set that is very difficult to find. It just allows you a lot more flexibility as a defensive coordinator when you have a guy who can play the post proficiently, who can play in the line of scrimmage, cover tight ends and play big nickel. We think that is something that Grant will be able to do at the NFL level.
“I think that he would be the first to admit that it is something that is going to be a focus of him as an area of improvement coming into the NFL. I wouldn’t make any excuses for him. He hasn’t made any excuses for it. He did deal with the high-ankle sprain, but he wouldn’t even give that as a reason for the primary issue. We think the total package and what he does well is going to play really well in our defensive system.”
Analysis: Delpit has received plenty of backlash, even after winning the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the top defensive back in the country. His decrease in production during his junior season led to many inconsistencies on tape. What he did reveal at the NFL Scouting Combine was that he battled an ankle injury that affected his play for most of the season; bad tackling angles, failures to wrap up and struggles as a run defender were littered throughout his final season. It ultimately cost him a first-round selection.
On the flip side, Delpit offers a unique skill set as a true single-high safety that can be utilized as a traffic controller on the roof of the defense. Even though he played multiple roles at LSU, he's best served to play as a free safety because of his inconsistencies as he gets closer to the line of scrimmage. The best tactic is to allow Delpit to roam and control the third level of the defense, which is where a lot of his positive experiences came during his final collegiate season.