Browns GM Andrew Berry says it's 'unlikely' he'll trade up into first round of NFL Draft
BEREA — When Browns General Manager Andrew Berry saw the movie "Draft Day" with his wife, Brittan, she asked him if the film accurately portrayed the draft experience of NFL decision makers.
"I go, ‘No, I promise you it is a lot less stressful,’” Berry said Friday during his annual pre-draft news conference at team headquarters.
The Browns don't have a first-round pick in the April 28-30 NFL Draft because they traded it and five other selections to the Houston Texans on March 18 in a controversial move for quarterback Deshaun Watson.
As a result, the Browns aren't scheduled to go on the clock until the second round on April 29 with the 44th overall pick.
That would change, though, if Berry trades up to get back into the first round. Will he?
"I would never rule out anything. I would say, just candidly, I think it's unlikely," Berry said. "But I don't want to say anything in absolutes because you just never know how situations ... Quite honestly, I wouldn't have expected us to move up last year, so you have to be flexible for the situation."
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Berry traded up in the second round last year, moving from No. 59 overall to select linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah at No. 52.
Berry said he hasn't been part of a team without a first-round pick since he worked as a pro scouting coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts in 2014. The Colts had surrendered their first-round selection to the Browns the previous fall in a trade for running back Trent Richardson.
“I would not say that it feels much different because there are still a lot of decisions that you have to make over the course of the weekend," Berry said. "Maybe [the first round] Thursday night in terms of the schedule we will potentially handle a little bit differently, but in terms of the intensity and focus for the weekend, that really has not changed.”
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Last year, the Browns stayed put in the first round and drafted cornerback Greg Newsome II 26th overall. Then they got aggressive in the second round after Owusu-Koramoah, otherwise known as JOK, had taken a surprising slide down the draft board.
“Honestly, it just really depends on how the board falls," Berry said in reference to how he weighs trade-up scenarios. "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 may be 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.
"[Thursday] 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 trade-offs, selections you make in a different spot or it is some of the different ways you might pivot if the board falls a certain way.
"We try and get as much of that done ahead of time. I would tell you, there are still things that you do not predict. JOK [being available at No. 52 overall] last year would be one of them, but you try and have a framework in place where you can work through a situation that you may have not specifically prepared for in the week prior.”
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The Owusu-Koramoah example illustrates Berry's point that "there are always surprises every year."
Perhaps a surprise this next week would compel the Browns to move up from No. 44, not even necessarily into the first round, but earlier in the second round. Berry dismissed the notion that giving up a bounty of picks in the Watson deal would make a trade up more difficult for the Browns.
“I think if you look through our draft history over the past two years, we have gone up and back," Berry said. "I think it probably more speaks to our flexibility within the moment. Volume is always a good thing. Candidly, that is something that is in an area that we will probably always skew a bit more heavily as opposed to moving up, but I would not eliminate either direction.”
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What are the Cleveland Browns' needs entering the NFL Draft?
This year, the Browns have seven picks, including two in the third and seventh rounds.
"It is almost like going to a restaurant hungry," Berry said. "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.”
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Berry wouldn't say it aloud, but the Browns' top needs are wide receiver, defensive end and defensive tackle. It should come as no surprise if those positions are addressed in the second and third rounds. Tight end, linebacker, offensive line and kicker are other areas to monitor as the draft unfolds for the Browns.
They are loaded at some positions, such as quarterback, running back and defensive back. It doesn't mean they wouldn't add to the pile at any of those spots, though.
"I'm not going to sit up here and tell you that there is zero factor in terms of your current roster," Berry said. "I think that would be disingenuous. At the same time, because we are bit more long-term focused when we get to the draft, we are probably a bit more flexible than maybe people perceive as we work through the board.”
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What NFL Draft picks do the Cleveland Browns have?
After the blockbuster trade for Watson, the Browns have the following seven selections in the 2022 draft:
Second round, 44th overall
Third round, 78th overall
Third round, 99th overall
Fourth round,118th overall
Sixth round, 202nd overall from Dallas
Seventh round, 223rd overall from Detroit
Seventh round, 246th overall from Buffalo
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Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Browns GM says 'unlikely' he'll trade up into first round of NFL Draft