CLEVELAND — Editor's note: the video in the player above is from a previous story.
Shortly after the Cleveland Browns traded up to select Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, Andrew Berry noted the irony of the transaction.
“I am going to ask you guys a question: Is this a fever dream or did the Browns actually trade up and draft a linebacker?" the Browns' general manager asked as he opened up his virtual press conference with reporters following the pick.
Berry was joking -- as evidenced by the laughs his rhetorical question elicited -- but like any good joke, it was rooted in reality. Since Berry took over as Cleveland's general manager in 2020, many have assumed two things about his front office's approach to the draft: that the Browns would rather trade down than trade up and that they wouldn't place a premium on the linebacker position.
And yet here Berry was taking an ax to both axioms.
Appearing on "The Athletic Football Show" podcast with Robert Mays on Friday, Berry was asked about his seemingly unlikely decision to trade up for Owusu-Koramoah. And while he admitted the move may have gone against Cleveland's general tendencies, he also noted there can be exceptions to every situation.
"There are certainly guiding principles that we abide by and really every organization -- every organization has their philosophy in terms of how they want to build their team, how they want to manage their resources, what their positional priorities are. We're no different in that regard," Berry said.
"That being said, there are just no absolutes. There are some situations like with Jeremiah this past year where we will break maybe a long-term trend. But it does, to what you've alluded to, come down to value. Both in terms of value of the player or value of the individual but also the cost for acquiring or obtaining the player. And in Jeremiah's case, we really felt like that matched up."
It also didn't hurt that Owusu-Koramoah's versatility only made him all the more valuable.
While he's officially listed as a linebacker, the 2020 Butkus Award winner possesses a skill set that could just as easily make him considered to be a nickel corner or safety. As Berry noted, that type of versatility is especially attractive in today's NFL, not only because of the flexibility it can provide to a defense but also due to the restraints of the league's roster limits.
"Football really is a war of attrition and you do need -- it's both a war of attrition and the fact that you can only dress now 48, it used to be 46, men up on game day," Berry said. "You really do need people who can do multiple things in case you get into a tough spot."
As a result, the Browns found themselves trading up to the No. 52 pick to select the player that many considered to be the draft's ultimate defensive Swiss army knife. And in the process, Berry helped turn what may have seemed like a fever dream to many -- including himself -- into a reality.