CLEVELAND — I try not to be too emotional one way or the other about what a team does in the NFL Draft. After all, as Bill Belichick would say, I don't have a crystal ball.
Unlike the 'experts' who claim to 'watch tape' on players on Twitter and radio talk shows, I try to defer to those whose jobs it is to scout, evaluate, and pick talent at the professional level.
Of course, the emphasis is on 'try.' Sometimes, the emotion gets the best of all of us.
For example, two years ago I was less than enamored with the Cleveland Browns' selection of Baker Mayfield with the first overall pick. I was much more sold on Sam Darnold to be the quarterback of the team's future. And although Baker still has a lot to prove, I think I can say that I was wrong on that one.
Having said all of that, I think Browns fans are feeling a sense of confidence this weekend after the first NFL Draft of the Andrew Berry/Kevin Stefanski regime.
Let's be honest, the Browns' cupboard was hardly empty when the duo was brought in earlier this year. They inherited plenty of talent on both sides of the ball. What was required was a deft touch to fill out key needs on the roster.
Berry and his staff made several wise moves in free agency with signings like TE Austin Hooper, OT Jack Conklin, and DE Adrian Clayborn.
But the fact that the new Browns general manager was here during the game show that was known as Sashi Brown's administration was reason enough for any fan to have a little bit of trepidation coming into this weekend. Would Berry try to get cute and play "Let's Make a Deal," as Brown so often did during his tenure as the man in charge of the 53-man roster?
The answer was a resounding "no." Berry seemingly checked off a need with every single draft pick made this weekend.
Need an offensive tackle to protect Mayfield and play opposite Conkin? Enter Jedrick Wills.
How about a safety to team with young corners Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams? Let's get Greedy's former LSU teammate Grant Delpit. And while we're at it, let's be LSU North and get linebacker Jacob Phillips from the Tigers as well.
Want a big man to help fill the defensive line rotation with Sheldon Richardson and Larry Ogunjobi? Jordan Elliott, come on down.
Need more offense, you say? How about the John Mackey Award winner for the nation's best tight end, Harrison Bryant. Plus, a wide receiver that many experts believe is a steal in the sixth round in Donovan Peoples-Jones and a backup center or potential guard in Nick Harris.
The proof, of course, will be on Sundays when these players take the field as members of the Browns under the direction of Stefanski and his coaching staff. But don't you feel better tonight than you did when the weekend started? Even taking it a step further, don't you feel better about the Cleveland Browns roster than when this offseason began?
No, I don't have a crystal ball. I have no idea if Wills can make the move from right to left tackle in the NFL. But when I see this reaction from future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas, I tend to take some comfort.
And is it a really big deal who the Browns draft in the second or third rounds? I know this: Eric Mangini never recovered from botching his three picks in the 2nd round of the 2009 NFL Draft. Brian Robiskie, Mohamed Massaquoi, and David Veikune were all busts. On the other hand, Jimmy Donovan's adopted son Nick Chubb has all the makings of an All-Pro running back for years to come.
Good teams make their picks count, whether in the first or seventh rounds. Time will tell whether the 2020 NFL Draft will be that kind of a home run for Andrew Berry. I just know that I am going to sleep better tonight.
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