Browns GM Has High Praise For First Round Pick Wills

(official Cleveland Browns release)

Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry:

Opening statement:

“(T) Jedrick Wills, we are incredibly excited to add Jedrick to our organization. Jed was one of the guys that we had targeted coming into this evening. He was a guy for us where just his performance over the past two years at Alabama, the way that he attacked our Spring process and just the overall make of the individual, we thought he was a guy that really fit in terms of talent, make-up and need and was really just kind of perfect for us this evening. Jed, from our perspective, a very well-rounded skillset, great feet, athletic ability, coordination, advanced in pass pro and very physical in the run game. Just a really well-rounded player for us. The other thing that really impressed us with Jed, particularly this spring, was obviously just his preparation and organization around his preparation habits and routine. It is very difficult on clubs but also on prospects with obviously all the restrictions with COVID-19. One thing that really resonated with us, in particularly when we interviewed Jed after everything shut down, is just his approach and his process to training, whether that was physically with conditioning, strength training or his on-field work and working at left tackle and then obviously the preparation that he’s put into the classroom. We are really excited to add him. The last thing I’ll mention before opening up to questions is, I spoke with (LB) Mack Wilson last night – we get in the habit of speaking with former teammates on a number of prospects that we consider coming into the weekend – and when I was asking Mack about the Alabama guys and we got to Jed, Mack, he paused and he goes, ‘Man, Jed is   a baller,’ It is a very simple phrase, but it is something certainly we agreed with and we are excited to have him to the organization. I think he has a ton of potential. A lot of work to do, but we are happy to add him to the team.”

On what separates Wills from T prospects Tristan Wirfs and Mekhi Becton who were also available:

“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 (Alabama Head) Coach (Nick) Saban. We just felt that he checked all the boxes for us coming into this weekend.”

On how Wills will be able to transition to LT after playing RT in college:

“I do think that there is going to be some physical reprograming or gaining a little bit of comfort. From our perspective with Jed, the reason that he was playing the right side at Alabama is because 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.”

On how Wills fits the outside zone blocking scheme and how important it was to find a player to match that offensive scheme:

“We do think that Jed is a very clean fit for our offensive system and largely because of his athletic ability and his movement ability. They ran a lot of wide zone at Alabama, too, so it was a bit of an easier translation for us because it is not like he was in an offensive system where you didn’t see him do some things in the running game that we are going to require of our offensive linemen, but we think really physically he is certainly one of the prototypes for our system.”

On if he was surprised that three of the four top-graded LTs were available at No. 10 and if the Browns had options to trade down:

“I’m never surprised by anything in the draft at this point. In full disclosure, yeah, I did expect more tackles to come off the board a little bit earlier. We did have some options to potentially move down the board. Obviously, we sat and decided to make the pick. We felt really good about Jed, and we are excited to have him.”

On if the decision to take Wills at No. 10 was an easy or difficult choice:

“There were certainly a lot of good players available at No. 10. There are going to be a lot of good players that are available through the rest of the draft. We felt very strongly about Jed. He was certainly one of the guys that we had targeted coming into Thursday night, and we were excited when he was available to us at No. 10.”

On the team’s process moving forward after the draft to prepare for the season, particularly considering challenges with COVID-19:

“Kevin is probably better to speak on that, but we actually have a pretty good virtual offseason plan. Yes, we are not allowed to be with these guys physically, but we are fortunate enough to have video technology where we can still provide the resources to make sure that these guys can get up to speed and get the support that they need to get up and running with the new offensive and defensive systems. All the other 31 teams are dealing with the same challenges, but we feel very equipped to make sure that our guys can hit the ground running when they are allowed back in the building.”

On how much consideration the Browns gave to potentially trading for Redskins LT Trent Williams:

“As you know, I don’t generally like to make a habit of speaking or speculating on guys who aren’t on our roster, but we are open to anything that helps improve the team. Any decision we make, we think that it is what is really the best in that moment, and for us to get a young, very, very talented tackle that can grow with the young core of our roster, we are very excited to do. Jed has a very well-rounded skillset, he plays a premium position and we think he has the proper make-up to really flourish in our organization.”

On Wills working at LT earlier this offseason and if that was at the Browns’ recommendation or his agent:

“Jed knew coming into this process that there were a number of teams that would have asked him to make that switch. One of the things that he talked about is with his on-field work, once everything really shut down, he would divide it really 60-40 left tackle versus right tackle. Now, one of his frustrations that he mentioned is not being able to do it under particular supervision just because of the distance, but he really has taken the initiative to begin some of that prep work on his own. It is really a credit to him and it is a credit to his drive.”

On if the Browns mentioned LT to Wills in their early conversations:

“It is something that we discussed when we met with him at the combine. I can’t sit here and say that we were the only team who asked him about that, but when you speak with him, if you haven’t already, I’m sure that he will mention that it was a pretty common discussion point with him throughout the process.”

On if he envisions that Wills will the team’s starting LT on Day 1 after playing RT in college or if the team could consider him at RT:

“Ultimately, that decision resides with the coach and it resides with (Head Coach) Kevin (Stefanski), but we feel confident in our ability to work with him and make sure that he is up to speed. We are fortunate to have the offensive line coach who has presided over probably the most high-profile switch from right tackle to left tackle in (offensive line coach) Bill Callahan. We feel really good about the group and the support that we’ll be able to give him.”

On collaboration with Chief Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta and Stefanski to ultimately select Wills:

“From our perspective, there was a ton of organizational consensus around the pick, whether it is Paul (DePodesta), Kevin (Stefanski), and myself or more broadly, our scouts, our research and strategy group and our coaching staff. There was a lot of belief in Jedrick as a person and in Jedrick as a player. We feel really good about bringing him into the organization as a whole. There was a ton of alignment with the pick.”

On if there was a strong separation in tiers of this year’s T prospects that made the Browns commit to picking at No. 10 and not trade down:

“It was really more we felt so strongly about Jedrick than any really strong demarcation. We really like him a lot. He was one of the guys that we really targeted coming into the evening. It was less about perhaps running out of options and [more about] seeing a player where the overall talent level matched with some of our goals entering the weekend. It was really more about that than anything.”

On if the Browns entered the night with the goal to select a LT in the first round, despite earlier comments that the team would not be pigeon-holed into one position tonight:

“I was shooting you guys straight when I was saying that we would be flexible coming in to the weekend. Ultimately, you never really know how the board is going to fall. In this instance, it really fell in our favor, but we do go into it with an open mind and not try to be too narrow because you do need a little bit of luck to go along the way.”

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