Browns transcripts -- Saturday, May 1, 2021


(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Rob McBurnett

Director, Community & Corporate Communications

Opening statement:

Berry: “I will keep it brief this afternoon, but I actually want to start off by just thanking really everyone across football operations who have worked so hard to execute this weekend throughout the draft. That starts with our college scouts, our coaches and player development staff, our research and strategy group and our contract management team, as well. A lot of individuals have contributed over really the last year and a half for this draft. Really, really pleased with the work that that our entire group has done. We are very excited about the eight drafted rookies that we were able to add over the past three days, and we are excited. Much like really all 32 teams in the NFL after the draft is completed, but we also know the reality of the situation is all of these guys who come in and work and have to earn roster spots and earn a role, and quite honestly, we have a lot of work to do before we get to September and the season opener. We are certainly hopeful and excited about the guys we were able to add to the organization, but we have a lot of work to do before we reach our ultimate goals this season.”

On how many bench reps of 225 Stefanski can do:

Stefanski: “Zero. How about that? (laughter) Not nearly enough.”

Berry: “He is being modest. You should the workout that (Director of High Performance) Shaun Huls has him on on a weekly basis (laughter).”

On if versatility was a separating factor among the prospects selected during the draft:

Berry: “We really went into it to find players who fit their roles within our offensive and defensive systems. Certainly, versatility is an added bonus, but really, we went with prospects that we thought were No. 1 very talented and No. 2 had the physical and mental characteristics to execute their responsibilities within our offensive and defensive schemes.”

On if the versatility of LBs Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Tony Fields II will give the defense a better chance to cover hybrid-type TEs:

Stefanski: “I think that is part of it. Versatility shows up in this game in terms of alignment, in terms of your job and what you do. You love guys who can pass rush and drop into coverage. I think you see it across rosters these days. You want to be able to impact the game in multiple ways. At linebacker, certainly, the guys we were able to add this weekend – guys who can run, guys who can play the run and guys who can play in pass coverage and zone – that is a big key to our success as a defense is having a bunch of guys that can do a bunch of different things.”

On if the Browns are confident the team has the defensive players needed to better contain mobile QBs outside of the pocket:

Berry: “I guess to answer your question, I know when we had our end-of-the-year press conference, we talked about adding speed really across the roster. I think the NFL more and more is a bit more of a space game. For us, really whether it is the offensive side of ball or the defensive side of the ball, we do want guys who can really run and play in space.”

On how excited defensive coordinator Joe Woods has been throughout the weekend:

Stefanski: “Joe has been great. Joe is a great teammate. He is excited about the guys we have added. Joe wants to help the team in any way he can. The way the draft shook out early, there were some guys who we identified and Andrew and his crew went and got, but Joe is a team player all of the way.”

On what he, Woods and linebackers coach Jason Tarver were drawing up on the whiteboard after drafting Owusu-Koramoah and if that is a normal practice after selecting a player or was a result of excitement to get Owusu-Koramoah:

Stefanski: “We were playing tic tac toe (laughter). When you get these guys – there is always a possibility that you are adding different players – we are coaches so when you get a guy you run to the whiteboard and you start to talk through the possibilities of where you can align them, no different than what our offensive coaches are doing when you add a receiver. It is just we can’t help ourselves.”

On why speed and versatility have been among the top traits the team has looked for when adding players during the past two years:

Berry: ”I think speed really in every phase is certainly the one physical tool or critical factor that can stress the opposition, especially with today’s game. In terms of the versatility aspect, I think it is more of the function that football is a long season and it is a little bit of a war of attrition, and you have to have some level of flexibility with your roster. Also, the more one that player can do, whether it is across responsibilities in the run game and pass game or across different positional requirements, that only makes the job easier for our coaching staff.”

On creating more competition in the locker room and on the field during the draft:

Stefanski: ”AB hit on it earlier, we are excited to add these guys to the mix, and then they are competing for a roster spot and they are competing for a role in the offense, defense and special teams. We went into this thing knowing we were going to add seven, eight or nine guys and added eight to the roster, and competition is great. It is always good. Cream rises to the top. I know our team and our veterans are always open to competition. It is what they do every single year. It is what they do every single day. That is how we are going to approach it. To say that these young guys coming in are being given anything, that is not accurate. They have to earn it.”

On RB Demetric Felton’s projected role with the Browns:

Stefanski: ”I think he starts in the running back room, but part of the appeal to Demetric was his ability to line up all over, speaking of versatility. We list him as a running back, but we need to get him on campus and see what he can handle and see what he can do. You have plenty of reps you can look at down there at the Senior Bowl where he is lining up all over. That is to be determined in role, but you can pencil him as a running back at this moment.”

On if the Browns additions make the team what he believes to be what a modern defense should look like now, given the evolution of NFL offenses:

Berry: ”I do not know I would go that far. I think a modern defense really depends on your philosophy – the organizational philosophy and the coach’s philosophy. I know this, we did everything in our power to make sure that we could acquire talented players who fit the vision Kevin and Joe have for our defense. That is really more of how we try to construct that side of the ball.”

On WR Anthony Schwartz and Schwartz’ speed:

Stefanski: ”I think that is one of the things that was appealing with Anthony. Obviously, he has an elite trait and that is speed. He has world-class speed, as you guys know. That is a part of his game that we were excited about. That is why he is added to this roster. Let’s see again where his role can grow. He is a young player. That is the thing with all of these guys, get them on campus, see what they can handle, move them around, see what they can do and use them in different spots. He is a guy who if you have that speed, the corner also knows you have that speed. As you line up, now you can use that to your advantage.”

On the Browns’ significant number of defensive additions and the level of competition on that side of the ball:

Berry: ”Our hope is certainly the level of competition, not just on defense but offense and the kicking game, is at a high level really across the roster. We really do believe in breeding competition in every position room. In terms of the defensive turnover – I mentioned this a little bit in January – every year, regardless of where your team is, something like one-third of the roster gets turned over on average. This year is a little bit unique in that we did have more turnover on the defensive side of the ball than on offense. Also, part of that is just a function of where our defense was contractually as we get into the year. We had a number of unrestricted free agents, and many of them were on that side of the ball. We love the guys we brought in this offseason and we are optimistic that they are going to be very capable producers, but I think turnover is pretty typical.”

On QB Baker Mayfield working out with some teammates in Florida:

Stefanski: ”I read that, but I am going to really focus on what we are doing here in terms of what we are allowed to do in the offseason program. What they do outside of that really does not concern me necessarily.”

On if the Browns will now focus their attention to players who are eligible for contract extensions:

Berry: ”I am going to turn my attention to the undrafted free agent process next. That is the next thing.”

On how the defensive additions impact the expectations for Woods and the Browns defense this season:

Stefanski: “All of our coaches, we put high expectations on ourselves. We work really, really hard. Joe and his staff do an outstanding job of preparing our players. It is true that they are going to have to prepare a bunch of new players and we are going to teach the system to a bunch of new guys and reteach it to a bunch of guys. We all have our work cut out for us, but in terms of external expectations or anything like that, I just think it is something that we all recognize the second we walk into this building every day; we are trying to just do everything we can for the Cleveland Browns.”

On if Schwartz and Felton can be potential options as return specialists:

Stefanski: “It is certainly something that we have been talking about. We will see again when we get them here what they are capable of.”

On the if the decision to not draft an edge rusher was due to how the board fell or confidence in young players like DEs Curtis Weaver and Porter Gustin:

Berry: “I think it is a combination of both. We liked the position group coming into the draft. There were a number of prospects at that position who we also liked, but like I told you guys, we are going to draft with a long-term vision for the team, and ultimately, we are not just going to pick for need or perceived need. The value has to be there, and we have to feel comfortable with whoever we are bringing into the building, but we like our group.”

On if T James Hudson can be a swing tackle and how T Chris Hubbard is doing with rehab:

Berry: “Chris is doing great. He is doing great with his rehab. Zero concerns about that. With James, we do think that he has positional versatility across the line. Certainly, we see him as a tackle that can play left and right but maybe can also play a little bit of guard, as well. That is something that, as Kevin has alluded to, a number of guys who we have touched on in the past few minutes, that will play itself out once he actually gets on campus and we see him on the grass.”

On how well the Browns executed the team’s initial plans heading into the draft:

Stefanski: “Andrew and the crew did a great job. We stayed true to the board and let the process play out. Andrew talked about it earlier, but there are 32 teams tonight that are going to be celebrating the draft class and they are all going to be very excited. We are excited because we stayed true to the process, but we have to let this thing play out. We will see over the course of years how we did. Certainly, Andrew was outstanding setting the board, conducting these meetings and then staying true to the board over these rounds.”

On if Berry has had any moments with a draft and draft board where he passed on plans to ‘wing it’:

Stefanski: “Do you know this guy? Does he look like a ‘wing it’ guy? (laughter)”

Berry: “I can’t say that I remember a moment where that was the case.”

On how this year’s draft process went for the team when being in the same building while still working primarily from individual offices:

Berry: “I wish I had more of an exciting set up for you. Quite honestly, a lot of the learnings from the fall with being in intensive protocols when you are in the facility but there are a number of things that you have to do virtually, that is largely the process that we employed this weekend. Largely, we communicated on Zoom. The nice thing is all of our offices are within walking distance and are pretty close so if we needed to have smaller conversations or go down to see someone, that was easy enough to do, but just because our draft room was not quite big enough for everyone that we would have in there, we decided how can we be close enough together to share this experience together while also adhering to all of the guidelines and COVID protocols. This was really the best solution where we really operated as if it was a normal day in the office, but for any type of large group meetings, so to speak, we just did it over Zoom. It was nice to have our scouts in, and it was nice to have our scouts and coaches together. It was seamless from an operational standpoint within our draft.”

Stefanski: “The only thing I have to add to that is having the scouts, the coaches and our entire group under one roof. A lot of things are still on Zoom, but when you are under one roof, you are hanging out with each other and you are bumping into each other so that collaborative spirit was certainly there with in-person. I think our scouts do such an amazing job, and the work they did this year with the restrictions they had, really happy for them to be in the building and then played a huge part of this thing.”

On who was the most frequent dapper after each pick:

Berry: “We are going to say (Chief Strategy Officer) Paul (DePodesta) just because he is not here to defend himself.”

On if the Browns could hear cheers in the building when picks were made:

Berry: “I can’t say I did.”

Stefanski: “It is much quieter than you think. It is very organized. Andrew does a nice job of letting everybody kind of know where we were going so 10 picks out, ‘Here are the guys we are thinking about.’ Certainly after the pick was made, I know you had some happy coaches after all of those picks.”

Berry: “The goal is not to maximize the cheers in the building, it is to minimize the boos (laughter).”

On if the planned Browns rookie minicamp would be virtual or in-person:

Stefanski: “That would be in-person.”

On excitement to get the rookies in the facility and see them on the field soon:

Stefanski: “It is a big step in their maturation is getting them here. Per the CBA, I think a lot of teams are going to be doing it that weekend as opposed to next weekend. We will get our guys here, plan on getting the rookies and the free agents here, get them out on the field, a lot of meetings and a lot of walkthroughs and then some field work, but it will be just our rookie class – draft picks and undrafted picks.”

On the balance of having a fast defense and stout defense with the ability to adjust to opposing gameplans:

Berry: “It is a balance. Let’s take the characteristics of speed and stout, there is a bit of a sliding scale. They come in different packages so it is certainly something that we weigh on both sides of it.”

# # #

S Richard LeCounte (5.1.21)

On what he offers the Browns as a player:

“I bring a lot of attributes to the table coming to the Browns. I am ready to learn. I am ready to work. I am ready to get to it. It has been an overwhelming process, as you guys know, from my accident in October to now. It has been a long journey. The things that I am able to bring to the table are unmatched. I was able to recover 100 percent, and I am ready to get on a roll.”

On his motorcycle accident:

“It was a scary situation, but God had his hands on me the whole time and was able to shed a lot of light on things that I was not aware of. I was able to calm down, get to it and really go through the hardest stage of my life mentally. Not just physically but going out there every Saturday and watching the guys I call my brothers, go to war without me, that kind of beat me up mentally, but I was able to do it with God, my family beside me and the ones who have stayed true all of my life. I was able to get through it with them, and here we are today.”

On how difficult his recovery process was following the motorcycle accident:

“More mental than anything. It has been quite challenging because coming from thankfully starting every game since I was a sophomore in college to not playing. (Georgia Head) Coach (Kirby) Smart and (Georgia co-defensive coordinator and inside linebackers) Coach (Glenn) Schumann kept drilling me and making sure I was there mentally. I was always there. Ever since that accident happened, it kind of did not happen mentally because I was there at every practice, I was there at every meeting, I never missed a special teams meeting and all of the same things were going mentally. Thanks to Mr. Ron Courson, the head trainer at Georgia, I was able to get back and feel like my normal self before I left. That is what really did it.”

On when he started feeling 100 percent like himself again:

“Probably not too long ago. I was nursing an injury. I kind of rushed it back. It was my foot. As I began to pick up speed in my workouts and things like that, I started to feel back to my normal self and I was able to crank it out. By my pro day, I was feeling about 90 percent. I did not do as well as I thought I would do at my pro day, but I was getting back in my groove. Now, I know I am fully back in my groove, and I am ready to work.”

On what he remembers from the motorcycle accident and how that experience has impacted his emotions during draft weekend:

“I do not try to live in the past about it. I just remember after the accident happened, my family driving from Kentucky where my game was, and they had to detour to come to Athens to be able to console me. After that happened, I was good. Like I said, I am ready to work. That is behind me. Thank God that I am here and thank god for everything I was able to do. He opened my eyes to a lot of things. Like I said before, I am ready to go.”

On if he was worried his draft stock might fall because of his injury recovery process:

“I talked to a lot of teams about the situation. I was not really worried about my draft stock. I knew wherever I go, I am able to get out there and showcase my talents. I am so glad that the Cleveland Browns gave me a shot to show what I can do. I can’t wait to get out there and run around.”

On the significance of the injuries he sustained from the motorcycle accident:

“It really was not that bad. Thank God it was not that bad. It was just my foot. I had a little fracture in my foot, and my shoulder just a minor injury that I was able to come back, but I did not want to rush myself back during the season so that is why I shut it down. I was able to recover 100 percent. It really was not anything crazy besides those two injuries.”

On how close he was to playing at Ohio State:

“I will answer the second question first. So close to going to Ohio State. It came down to the wire about that. My best friend (Patriots LB) Raekwon McMillan went there so I was very familiar with Columbus, the coaches and all of the great things that were going on in Columbus. I was almost a Buckeye, but I decided to stay home in Georgia and I felt like either way I would have made the right decision. I was able to do what I had to do.”

On if he had any private workouts with the Browns in addition to his pro day and how he proved to the Browns that he was healthy:

“I guess my Pro Day kind of did it, and I met with them a lot.”

On the opportunity to play in defensive coordinator Joe Woods’s system and incorporating multiple safeties with Ss Grant Delpit, John Johnson III and Ronnie Harrison Jr.:

“I am ready. I see it as a great opportunity to learn from those guys who are in front of me. Grant, Ronnie and those guys, I have been watching those guys. Ever since they came to college, I looked up to those guys. I am able to get in, tap in with those guys and train with those guys and see what I can learn from them just like a sponge. Anything thing that I can from any coach or anybody around the organization, I am willing to learn.”

On his familiarity with the Browns:

“I know (RB) Nick Chubb (laughter).”

On if he is close with Chubb:

“That is my guy. Nick has always been a big brother. Ever since I came to Georgia, he has always shed light on me, just letting me know how to go about things when I was a freshman in college. I am pretty sure he is going to oversee and do the same thing in Cleveland.”

On if Chubb took him under his wing at Georgia:

“Oh yeah, for sure. I was just a knucklehead coming out of high school so he had to. He saw the potential in me, and he helped me, also.”

On if he met with the Browns before the Draft and if he saw the Browns as a potential destination:

“I did meet with the Browns. I am ready to work. Whenever the Browns saw me, I am fired up about whatever. I am just ready to get in and show you guys what I can do.”

# # #

On describing himself as a player:

“I fly to the ball. I am one of those guys who is an ambassador of hard work when I get on the football field. I get out there and put my all into it, no matter what I am doing. If I am going to the ball, I am trying to get an interception or if I am forcing a puller, I am going to give you my all. That is how I play the game.”

On how transferring to West Virginia helped him improve cover skills with the style of play in the Big 12 and if that factored into his decision:

“That and it was a climate change. I am in Cleveland now. I am from Las Vegas, where it is always hot. I dealt with the cold for a whole season in West Virginia. I met a lot of guys from Cleveland. Just moving to West Virginia was a good thing all in all because I have met a lot of new people and I got used to a different climate and a different type of football than the PAC-12.”

On how much he prides himself on versatility:

“100 percent. I feel like I can play any position on the defense. If you needed me to gain 70 more pounds, I will gain it and play D line. I am a football head. I can lose 30 pounds to play corner. Whatever you need me to do, I will do it. That is what I am going to tell Coach as soon as I step foot in the building.”

On if he sees similarities between LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah’s and his game and style:

“For sure, we are both athletic linebackers, but that is what the game is changing to. It was a great two picks from our staff and coaches. I feel it helps a lot with having two linebackers that can run with those receivers and running backs on the defense.”

On the advantage defenses have when being versatile and combatting the evolution of NFL offenses:

“Like I said before, I feel like it is just that we are very well-rounded and that we are full three-down linebackers. Myself, I feel like I am a three-down linebacker because I can play on third down and I can go and widen out in coverage and jam a slot or cover a slot if I have to. I can also play in the box. That is what I have done in college. I am all ready to go.”

On how grateful he is that the Browns are ‘valuing the modern-day linebacker’:

“It is great. I am blessed. Everybody called me undersized or whatever you want to say about it, but I do not think of myself like that, and I for sure do not play like that. I never will play like I am undersized. I love the fact that coaches are buying in. The whole league is eventually going to have to buy into these passing-coverage linebackers because the league is getting faster and it is becoming more and more of a passing game.”

On if he has already imagined going against Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, WR Tyreek Hill, TE Travis Kelce and other top NFL talent this season:

“I have done that all year. These whole last two days were the hardest two days of my life, and all I am thinking about is who I am playing against, what quarterback I am going to play with and what guy I am going to have to tackle. I am ready to go, though.”

On why he transferred to West Virginia:

“I graduated from Arizona. The PAC-12 might not have played football. When I decided to transfer, I took it upon myself to go somewhere and think about going somewhere it would be a change of environment and a change of everything for me. I did not have family out there. I have always been close to home. I am in Arizona so I am five hours away from family. This was my first time I was actually far, far away. I had to do everything by myself, and it developed me as a person.”

On potentially being close to home if the Cardinals drafted him:

“It is close to home, but hey, I do love Cleveland, I am telling you that.”

On if he is in West Virginia or Las Vegas:

“I am in Las Vegas. I am training here.”

On what it is like growing up in Las Vegas and if he likes going back there:

“Definitely. Me being from Vegas, I do not really get into what the tourists and people who are not from here get into when they come out here because it is regular to me. I treat it like home. I work out every day. Occasionally, you go to the casino. I feel like we have the best food spots on Earth out here. I love my city.”

On how his leadership will transfer to the NFL:

“I have always been able to adapt to change. The leadership characteristics and everything I have learned on how to be a leader, I feel like I can also come in and help. I know like you said veterans who have been there are leaders already, but in my opinion, you can learn from anybody. I learn things from people younger than me all of the time so I am going to go in and be a learning sponge. When I can speak up or there comes a time when I have to speak up or be a leader, I am going to do so.”

On if thought the Browns could be a landing spot and how much he interacted with the team during the draft process:

“Believe it or not, yes. I did. My coaches called me about it from college and my agent told me a lot about it. It was a surprise. just the call was the biggest moment of my life.”

On who called him from the Browns:

“It was a couple of coaches – I think actually the whole staff.”

On if he admired other positions than LB when he was a kid:

“Definitely, I was more into the skill players to be honest growing up, until I turned into a straight linebacker. Then I started watching linebackers. I was more into the guys who moved faster like the receivers, the slots or the corners. My dad and all of my family were defensive backs so I always watched the skill players, rather than the mid-skill like the tight ends and linebackers.”

On being a part of the new wave of college and NFL LBs:

“It is not even a new thing. There are a lot of linebackers – you have (Buccaneers LB) Devin White, who has already been doing it. There are a lot of guys who have been in there doing this new breed of linebackers, the hybrid linebacker thing. It is not necessarily a new wave in my opinion. It is just everybody is now doing the same thing. People are catching on.”

# # #

On LB Tony Fields II and how Fields compares to LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah:

“First off, he is explosive. He is rangy. He can get sideline to sideline both faces. He just gives us tremendous versatility and flexibility in our linebacking corps. As far as how he compares to Jeremiah, they both run. We want to have guys who can come on the field and take stress off of the first level and third level. They both do that. We think he brings tremendous value to us.”

On the Browns adding versatile players like Fields:

“If you watch successful teams, especially when they get into the playoffs, if you look at Tampa last year, they had no lack of speed or lack of range anywhere on defense. The more you can add to the group, the better. It can never hurt you having faster, more versatile players who can play football, hunt the ball and make plays. It can’t hurt you.”

On how Fields can help the Browns on special teams:

“He is definitely a competitive kid. He carries a chip on his shoulder. I know he is going to be aggressive. Like we have said, he can run so those mixtures of traits should help us on special teams for sure. I know he is going to come in here and try to make a name for himself so I think he would be a good addition there.”

On if the days of the ‘traditional LB’ are over:

“I would not say it is over. I would just say the game is evolving. Good players are still going to be good players. You still have linebackers out there who might not be the fastest or the most rangy, but there is a place for everybody. I think really just in the same way that offenses have evolved with different players at different sizes and skillsets, I think defense is evolving the same way. We are just adding to the firepower. I do not think those linebackers who necessarily are not necessarily the fastest are completely outdated, but the game is evolving, that is for sure.”

On if the Browns are stout enough inside at the LB position, given the number of versatile players with speed the team has added:

“The one thing about these guys that we have taken and just our room in general, we are violent. That is what we are going to do. We are going to be violent and explosive. When you watch these guys, I do not think anyone would call them finesse players just because they have range, they do take off, they do hit and they seek that contact so I do not think that is going to be a problem.”

On desired traits for Browns LBs:

“You will hear from us tough, smart and accountable. Tough, smart, and accountable, that is what you will hear all day from us. We obviously want guys who are athletes, who can run and give us versatility on our back end and help our first level, as well.”

On how much the evolution of NFL defense is connected to the change towards more mobile QBs:

“I think it has more to do with the big picture. Not only do you have those kind of guys, but when you get down to the meat of it, you have tight ends who [run] a 4.4 or 4.5 and can get down the seam and attack you. Now, we have linemen who we have play against who have feet like linebackers so you have to be able to add pressure. If you can do that from your secondary and have linebackers that have the ability to rush, that helps, you as well. It is not just the quarterbacks. It is kind of a full picture. Running backs now, too. We look at these running backs now that are splitting out to the slot and they are running routes like a receiver, and you have to be able to cover it and match it. I think it is a full picture.”

On if there is concern that opposing offenses could run more power schemes against the Browns and if there is a concern the defense may be undersized:

“When I look at our roster, I would say that we have a mix. I would not say that we are siloed into or pigeonholed into one lane. I think that we just added versatility and speed to our toolbox. I would not look across the board at our defense and say that we are dramatically undersized or that a power scheme is going to be able to attack us. I would not say that at all.”

On LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and differentiating between an ‘undersized linebacker’ and a safety:

“If you look at where he was used also in college, he was used down in the box. He is not unfamiliar with taking on offensive linemen or crashing in blitz situations. Now, some of the drops they had him do are reminiscent of some of the things that you would ask the safety to do, but that is a good thing. That just adds to his versatility as a backer. To answer your question, the difference is usually these guys who are coming from college, you see them playing the post and you see him play off of half field. Jeremiah was used as a linebacker, and that is where we see him and that is where we projected him.”

On the reaction in the building last night after the Browns drafted both CB Greg Newsome II and Owusu-Koramoah:

“We were fired up. Everybody was, and we still are. The energy that is going in this building right now is positive. We are very proud of what we are doing, and we hope to continue to close it out and finish. To answer your question, we were definitely juiced up and super excited.”

On if he could have imagined the Browns getting both Newsome and Owusu-Koramoah before the draft started:

“No way. No way, no how. We are happy, though.”

On if there are ‘too many good defensive players’ on the roster now:

“I think that pressure creates diamonds, and competition can never be a negative thing, especially on that side of the ball. It is a positive when you can bring that energy into the building. The guys are grown men. They know what we are trying to do here, and we are trying to achieve a championship. Guys are going to compete, and I think that is what we are fostering here.”

# # #

Vice President of Player Personnel Glenn Cook (5.1.21)

Opening statement:

“Really excited to get (T) James (Hudson) where we got him. I think we went to bed last night hoping that he would be there at this spot. A kid from right up the road. Just in terms of speaking to the position, you can never have enough big dudes who can move and can fit in the scheme. Just a really good fit and really good value for where we got him.”

On what makes Hudson a good fit for the Browns offense:

“A couple of things that stick out are No. 1 just extremely athletic. His movements, his twitch, really his feet and just a combination of all of those things really blend well with our wide-zone scheme. Just the versatility he will bring, we will cross-train him a little bit – obviously, work him in slowly – but his ability to play multiple positions was just another thing that we really liked.”

On at which position Hudson will begin his development:

“He will start at tackle. He will start at tackle and will cross-train inside, but he is a tackle in terms of the depth chart.”

On why Hudson moved to T from DL at Cincinnati and how that benefits Hudson:

“I am really not exactly sure why they moved him, but you definitely see the defensive movement skills in how he plays at O line. I think that gives him an advantage. He is still developing, which is also intriguing for us. Just the natural movements and just some of his innate foot speed and agility and given his ability, it is going to be exciting to see how he progresses over the next couple of years.”

On Hudson’s limited experience on the OL and his upside to develop more and how that factored into his projections:

“A lot of what we do is projections. We have to take that into account when we are making these decisions. Really just speaking to his traits and even in the limited time that he did play, the performance and production, all of those things spoke well to someone we would like to add to our team. Like I said, when you have one of the best O line coaches (Bill Callahan) and arguably the best O line coach in the NFL, that only adds to the intrigue trying to find guys like this.”

On the Browns’ other picks thus far, particularly adding CB Greg Newsome II and LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah on defense:

“I think we just really set out this offseason to not only improve our team but really attack that side of the ball. Guys like Greg and JOK add a ton of athleticism and versatility. I think you will hear that over and over again. Just the versatility that those guys add to this defense, it is really exciting. (WR) Anthony (Schwartz), not only his speed but again his ability to line up in multiple spots and give (Head Coach) Kevin (Stefanski) another weapon to use, we are really excited about those three.”

On if acquiring versatile players was a point of emphasis for the Browns this offseason:

“I think just as the game evolves and has changed a little bit, you need guys who can do a bunch of things and have a ton of skillsets that translate to both the pass and run game. I would not say we sat down and said we need to be versatile, but I think it is just something that correlates to those types of guys where the more you can do, the more value it adds to the roster and the more value it adds to the coaching staff and their ability to call the game a little bit differently. I think they kind of just naturally go hand in hand and work together. We are happy it is working out that way.”

On if defensive coordinator Joe Woods has been the happiest person in the Browns office this weekend:

“He was pretty psyched after the first pick, and then after the second pick, I do not know if we could keep him together. Yeah, he is pretty excited. I think we are all excited about those guys.”

# # #

Director of Player Personnel Dan Saganey (5.1.21)

Opening statement:

“Really excited to pick (DT) Tommy Togiai here from The Ohio State University. Really excited to add him to our D line room at a position of need for us. Tommy is what we consider a very good run player who has kind of come into his own here in the last year. Excited to add an Ohio State guy who we think will be a great fit as a person for the organization and a great fit in the room and really helps upgrade our defensive line room going into the season.”

On the Browns DTs and how Togiai fits into the unit:

“We are excited. Between adding Tommy, (DT Andrew) Billings, (DT) Jordan Elliott, (DT) Malik (Jackson) and (DT) Sheldon Day who we have on the roster, as well, and had on the practice squad at the end of last year, we feel pretty good about the room going in. Again, Tommy’s skillset we are excited to add. We think he is a very good run player. Obviously, the division is a physical division in general. We think there is upside there as a pass rusher for him, as well. He is a good, powerful, explosive and quick guy to add to the room. You can never have enough defensive linemen, and we are excited to get him in the mix and see what he can do and compete with the rest of the crew here.”

On the Browns releasing DT Sheldon Richardson and if the Browns hoped to add a DT during the draft:

“It was definitely a position that we were interested in going into the draft at certain picks. We are very excited with the guys we added the first two days here. Really at this point, you kind of let the board fall as it may and try to pick the best players who we think can be good fits on either side of the ball, regardless of position. When Tommy was there, it felt like a pretty easy pick for us. Sheldon is obviously a great player and a great teammate. To add another guy to the mix who we think can compete and hopefully add some production that he gave us last couple of years is something we are pretty excited about here. Looking forward to getting him in the building.”

On what makes Togiai a strong run defender, given some of analysts say Togiai is not a good run defender:

“Tommy is quick off of the ball. Tommy for us is a really good scheme fit. He may be slightly undersized, but I do not know why they would say he is not a good run player. We look for penetrating guys up front. We think he can do that, which is disruptive in the run game. It is a trait that we look for. He did come into his own this year with showing some power and some quickness coming off the ball. When you kind of pair him with the rest of the guys we have in our defensive line group, we are always looking for quick, twitchy, explosive guys, and we think he fits that bill. Really looking forward to seeing what he can do on both sides of the ball.”

On if Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry delegates staff members to help inquire about rolling draft picks into next year at this point of the draft:

“We always look. It is something that we get multiple calls on to go forward and back really with each pick in the draft. It is part of our process here. We are always reaching out to teams, and teams are always reaching out to us, as well, to move back and forward. To move picks into future years is always something we are interested in, but it also comes to the point where you are excited to take a player that you really like that is sitting there. We were able to move one pick for next year, add a pick that we are excited about for next year and still have a couple of picks left to add some players that we like in this draft class, as well.”

On if the Browns has discussed potentially taking a developmental QB:

“It really just kind depends who is left on the board here. We really do like our quarterback room. We obviously have three guys in the room right now who we are excited about. It really just comes down to who is available at this point. There are a few left in the discussion, and we will see where it goes from there with the next few picks here.”

On Togiai’s ability to develop further and his personality:

“Ohio State has had a lot of really good defensive linemen come out in the last of couple years all around the league. He sat and learned from a lot of the guys ahead of him. Got a chance to see him work live at the pro day. He is a guy who is about his work as we try to be about here. (Head) Coach (Kevin) Stefanski hits on it all the time, and I think Tommy exemplifies that. He is very well respected in their program. He is a very hard worker. It is the tools that fit our system. We think he is a strong, disruptive player with high upside. I think he really showed that this year and kind of turned it on. Particularly the last couple games of the year, we thought were really impressive. Looking forward to getting him in the boat and letting him compete with the guys we have in the room.”

On the Browns drafting another Ohio State player:

“There were a couple pretty good ones this year. A lot of them are off of the board already. That is a heck of a program. Those guys are always great to us every time we go down there. I think it is a very good thing they have going there, and I am sure we will looking at plenty again next year. We are happy to add another Buckeye to the group here and a guy I think has very good upside for us.”

On if the Browns need to have four solid DTs to rotate during a game:

“D line is a position where the more guys you can keep fresh and get the most out of them, you kind of build your pass rush in waves and you build your sub packages and your base packages in waves if you can, provided you have enough depth. That is something we have tried to emphasize here through this offseason. Adding a guy like Tommy who I would disagree [with other analysts], and we do think he is a good run player with disruptive traits in the pass game, as well. It is something that really should have three-down value for us and pairs well with the rest of the guys in that room when you start to figure out how you want to gameplan each week and where you want to put different guys on the line.”

On what Togiai’s lifting stats mean when evaluating the player:

“When we researched Tommy, everybody tells you down there how strong he is and how awesome he is in the weight room. I was there live to see it, and it was impressive to watch. If anything, the bench is something you are fired up to see guys compete. You watch how the rest of the guys around that player who you know is about to light it up react. Those guys were all into it, and it was really fun to watch. They had all of their future year players around so it was cool to see. Anytime somebody blows a test out of the water, where it is a 40, the bench or anything like that, it is always fun to see. We are really looking forward to seeing how guys compete and how they interreact with everybody over the course of their pro day.”

On if taking players from big programs was by design or because the quality of competition separates them:

“There were a few small school players that went earlier that we view as really good players as well. Again, it kind of comes down to how the board plays out, what our trade up and down offers may or may not be given where we are picking in the draft and really who is available. Ohio State is such a great program so anytime you can add a guy out of there you feel pretty strongly about what you are getting. And again, Tommy is a player that earned his role on the field there this year and that we think fits our division and fits our room nicely. Fired up to add him.”

On evaluating how the front office has executed the plan that was established heading into the draft:

“We do try to lay out certain parameters. And again, it really comes down to doing the work with trade calls forward and backward in the draft. We all have players that we certainly have targeted, and we are really excited to pull the trigger and add to our roster if they are available at the right price and at the right time for us. And again, the draft is always full of surprises, particularly as you get into these Day 3 picks. When it comes to moving back and moving forward with picks, pushing picks forward is something we are always interested in, if we can do it, but also there are plenty of points in the draft where you are really excited to add a specific player. And again, in this case, really fired up to add Tommy to the group. I think we do our best to plan and then you just kind of roll with the punches as the draft goes on and do your due diligence with all your calls.”

On how Berry operates during the draft:

“You guys know Andrew pretty well. Andrew is as straightforward and as sharp of a person as you are going to get. He is a great communicator. And again, I feel like we all work really well together and we kind of have a good system going in terms of all the communication that needs to go on on draft day because there is a lot going on at certain points. Like I said, you guys know Andrew and you know how sharp and organized he is. I think we all do a pretty good job communicating throughout the entire process here.”

On if he thought it was a realistic possibility to get both CB Greg Newsome II and LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah:

“I would have a pretty big smile on my face like I do now. We are really excited to have those guys. Really all of our picks so far we are really excited about. These are all guys that we have obviously had targeted at certain points. To be able to get those two guys mentioned with the first two picks is exciting for our defensive unit and we will continue to add hopefully a couple more good players on both sides of the ball here the rest of the day.”

On defensive coordinator Joe Woods’ demeanor throughout the draft:

“Joe has been fired up. I have seen him making the rounds. I have had my door shot for half of this but I have had a couple of pounds on the door. He is excited. My office is right next (special teams coordinator) coach (Mike) Priefer so I think he is excited about some of these guys too that are certainly going to contribute for him too as we build this thing for next year. We are excited and really just looking forward to getting everybody in the building together and getting to work together again.”

On Saturday, May 1, 2021, 01:50:55 PM EDT, Kaylee Woodward <kwoodward98@yahoo.com> wrote:

Director of Player Personnel Dan Saganey:

Opening statement:

“Really excited to pick (DT) Tommy Togiai here from The Ohio State University. Really excited to add him to our D-line room at a position of need for us. Tommy is what we consider a very good run player who has kind of come into his own here in the last year. Excited to add an Ohio State guy who we think will be a great fit as a person for the organization and a great fit in the room and really helps upgrade our defensive line room going into the season.”

On the defensive tackle rotation and how Togiai fits in:

“We are excited. Between adding Tommy, (DT Andrew) Billings, (DT) Jordan Elliott, (DT) Malik (Jackson), (DT) Sheldon Day who we have on the roster as well, and had on the practice squad at the end of last year like we feel pretty good about the room going in. Again, Tommy’s skill set we are excited to add. We think he is a very good run player. Obviously, the division is a physical division in general. We think there is upside there as a pass rusher for him as well. He is a good, powerful, explosive and quick guy to add to the room. So again, you can never have enough defensive linemen and we are excited to get him in the mix and see what he can do competing with the rest of the crew here.”

On releasing DT Sheldon Richardson and if there was a strategy to go younger at defensive tackle position:

“Sure, yeah I mean it was definitely a position that we were interested in going into the draft at certain picks. We are very excited with the guys we added the first two days here. And really at this point you kind of let the board fall as it may and try to pick the best players that we think can be good fits on either side of the ball, regardless of position. When Tommy was there, it felt like a pretty easy pick for us. Sheldon is obviously a great player and a great teammate and to add another guy to the mix that we think can compete and hopefully add some production that he gave us last couple of years is something we are pretty excited about here. Looking forward to getting him in the building.”

On what makes Togiai a good run defender given some of the analysts are saying he is not a good run defender:

“I would say Tommy is quick off the ball and that is what makes Tommy for us is a really good scheme fit. He may be slightly undersized, but I do not know why they would say he is not a good run player. We look for penetrating guys up front and we think he can do that, which is disruptive in the run game, it is a trait that we look for. And then, again, he did come into his own this year with showing some power and some quickness coming off the ball. And again, when you kind of pair him with the rest of the guys we have in our defensive line group, we are always looking for quick, twitchy, explosive guys and we think he fits that bill. Really looking forward to seeing what he can do on both sides of the ball.”

On if Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry delegates people to inquire about rolling draft picks into next year:

“We always look. I would say it is something we get multiple calls on to go forward and back really with each pick in the draft. It is part of our process here. We are always reaching out to teams and teams are always reaching out to us as well to move back and forward and to move pics into future years is always something we are interested in, but it also comes to the point where you are excited to take a player that you really like that is sitting there. We were able to move one pick for next year and add a pick that we are excited about for next year and still have a couple of picks left to add some players that we like in this draft class as well.”

On if taking players from big programs was by design or because the quality of competition separates them:

“There were a few small school players who went earlier that we view as really good players, as well. It kind of comes down to how the board plays out, what our trade up and down offers may or may not be given where we are picking in the draft and really who is available. Ohio State is such a great program. To me, anytime you can add a guy out of there, you feel pretty strongly about what you are getting. Tommy is a player who earned his role on the field there this year and that we think fits our division and fits our room nicely. Fired up to add him.”

On evaluating how the Browns have executed their player acquisition plan that was established heading into the draft:

“We do try to lay out certain parameters. It really comes down to doing the work with trade calls forward and backward in the draft. We all have players who we certainly have targeted, and we are really excited to pull the trigger and add to our roster if they are available at the right price and at the right time for us. The draft is always full of surprises, particularly as you get into these Day 3 picks. When it comes to moving back and moving forward with picks, pushing picks forward is something we are always interested in if we can do it, but also, there are plenty of points in the draft where you are really excited to add a specific player. In this case, really fired up to add Tommy to the group. We do our best to plan and then you just kind of roll with the punches as the draft goes on and do your due diligence with all of your calls.”

On how Berry operates during the draft:

“You guys know Andrew pretty well. Andrew is as straightforward and as sharp of a person as you are going to get. He is a great communicator. I feel like we all work really well together and we kind of have a good system going in terms of all the communication that needs to go on on draft day because there is a lot going on at certain points. Like I said, you guys know Andrew, and you know how sharp and organized he is. I think we all do a pretty good job of communicating throughout the entire process here.”

On if entering the draft he was told the Browns would get both CB Greg Newsome II and LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah:

“I would have a pretty big smile on my face like I do now. We are really excited to have those guys. Really all of our picks so far, we are really excited about. These are all guys who we obviously had targeted at certain points. To be able to get those two guys mentioned with the first two picks is exciting for our defensive unit. We will continue to add hopefully a couple more good players on both sides of the ball here the rest of the day.”

On defensive coordinator Joe Woods’ demeanor throughout the draft, given the defensive additions:

“Joe has been fired up. I have seen him making the rounds. I have had my door shot for half of this, but I have had a couple of pounds on the door. He is excited. My office is right next (special teams coordinator) Coach (Mike) Priefer so I think he is excited about some of these guys, too, who are certainly going to contribute for him, too, as we build this thing for next year. We are excited and really just looking forward to getting everybody in the building together and getting to work together again.”

# # #

RB Demetric Felton (5.1.21)

On if he prefers to play RB or WR and what the Browns have shared about their plans for him:

“I do not really have a preference. I feel like I can play both positions at a very high level. The Browns told me that they wanted me to play running back. I am excited to be able to go there and learn from the guys above me and be able to provide for this team however they want me to.”

On if it surprising the Browns want him at RB, even though he had reps at WR at the Senior Bowl:

“It is not a surprise to me. I talked to a lot of different teams about both positions. Sometimes, I would talk to teams and I would talk to both position coaches. It is not really a surprise to me. I feel like I can go in there and play whatever position they want me to.”

On joining RBs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt:

“I am super excited. I love to compete so being able to go and practice against the best of the best and with them, that is super exciting for me. I am going to soak up all of the information I can from them. I am just super excited for this opportunity.”

On how much pride he takes in being an all-purpose player:

“I take a lot of pride in it. I take a lot of pride in making sure that I am good at multiple things. I feel like that I showed that in my college career. I am really excited to bring that to Cleveland.”

On if he sat in different position group meetings at UCLA:

“Yes, I did. I moved around rooms all of the time so I was really able to learn the whole offense that way. Being able to do that, it just made me play the game faster and be able to be used in multiple roles.”

On if he hopes that he does not have pick one position or role over the other:

“I hope that I do not have to pick. I hope they are open with me. I hope they recognize that I am someone who can be used in a lot of different ways. I hope they take advantage of it, and I am able to show just that.”

On how much he enjoys being part of the return game:

“Definitely, I am really excited, and I hope that I am able to do kick return and punt return. I want to get on anything that I am able to do and show them that I belong there and that I am a playmaker. That is what I do. I make plays, I score touchdowns and I do all of that. I am just really excited for the opportunity.”

On if he has hit it off with anyone in particular pre-draft during meetings with the Browns:

“It was definitely the special teams coach (Mike Priefer). I met him early in the process, but me and him had a really good conversation. It made me really want to go there. Being able to talk to him and see how he wanted to use me, that just made me super excited.”

On how exciting is to join a team with Super Bowl aspirations:

“It is amazing. It is really a dream come true. I have been waiting for this my whole life. To be able to go on a team that is surrounded by so much greatness is really exciting for me. I can’t wait to be a part of the team.”

On how he would describe himself as a route runner:

“I feel like I am a very elusive route runner, somebody who is able to sell something in order to get open on a different route. I feel like I am very technical in my game, and that is a huge asset for me. I was a wide receiver first and then I moved to the running back room so I was really able to translate those skills I learned in the wide receiver room and bring them to the running back room. That was huge for me to be able to be mismatched against linebackers who are not able to move as fast as me and get in and out of breaks as fast as me.”

On NFL players he has studied:

“I definitely study a lot of (Saints RB) Alvin Kamara and (Panthers RB) Christian McCaffrey. Their versatility is really something I try to apply to my game. I really watch those guys a lot and try to add whatever they do to my game and perfect it.”

On where he is now:

“I am actually in Menifee, Calif. That is where my parents live now. I am just here with them enjoying the moment.”

On how nerve-racking the experience was waiting 210 picks before being drafted:

“It is super nerve-racking. There is nothing like it. At the end of the day, I am really excited for the opportunity. I am so glad the Browns picked me up. I am ready to go in there and show them they got a steal.”

On if he was open to moving positions at UCLA when presented with the opportunity:

“I was pretty open to it. I moved into the backfield a couple of times prior to permanently moving there. I always knew it was in my background. I felt really comfortable with it. The reason why I did it, our starting running back Joshua Kelly, who is on the Chargers now, he ended up getting hurt after the first day of fall camp. They were having depth issues. The (Bruins) running backs coach, Coach DeShaun Foster, asked me if I was willing to move. I said yeah, and the next day I was in the running back room.”

On not having any issues taking on extra hits as a RB when moving to the position:

“I am not afraid of contact. I feel like I am a very tough football player so I was not worried about that. I just wanted to be used and help my team out whichever way they needed me.”

# # #

T James Hudson (5.1.21)

On if he has played both G and T during his career, given the Browns plan to cross-train him at both positions:

“I only played tackle in my career. I am pretty open to playing guard. It is not that much of a difference. It is just a slight difference. It should not be a problem for me to get used to it.”

On transitioning to OL from DL in college and the advantage it offers:

“I feel like the transition was not that big of a difference. I am playing football at the end of the day. The position was not foreign to me so it kind of came naturally. I just had to tighten up some things in my technique. I feel like I play offensive line with a defensive line mentality. I just want to get after the person who I am across of every single play and just attack him.”

On being drafted from Cleveland and staying close to home and his family:

“It means everything. It warms my heart to know that I am only going to be an hour and a half away from home. My family is going to be able to come see me whenever they want to. That is a blessing. I am excited to put on for the state of Ohio.”

On if being selected by the Browns surprised him at all:

“No, it makes perfect sense. We had a couple of interviews, and they went really well. Me and the offensive line coach (Bill Callahan), we hit it off pretty good. I am excited.”

On why he decided to declare for the draft despite having years of eligibility left:

“I feel like the time was right just for my growth. I graduated from the University of Cincinnati. I earned my degree. My family was going to be support me 100 percent no matter what I decided to do. I sat down and I prayed to God, and I felt like this was the right move for me. It was the right move for me and my growth because it is time to take that next stop.”

On if him being a high fourth-round pick proves he made the right decision to declare for the draft this year:

“Yes, definitely.”

On if he thought he might be selected by the Bengals with the following pick, given he went to Cincinnati:

“I would be lying if I said it did not cross my mind. Cincinnati, there have been a lot of rumors saying that Cincinnati wanted to probably grab me, but Cleveland is even better. I am excited. They are going to get my all from Day 1.”

On joining one of the best OL units in the NFL, along with Callahan:

“Definitely, I am very excited. I can’t wait to just be around those guys, be with the coach and everything and just learn. I want to be like a sponge and just soak up as much knowledge as I can and as much info as I can so that when my jersey is called, I am ready and can help the team win.”

On joining the Browns and former Browns T Joe Thomas staying close with the team and what he can learn from Thomas:

“Joe Thomas, I look up to him. When I first got switched from defensive line to offensive line, I went to YouTube, and I typed in Joe Thomas. That was the first thing I did, just to learn some stuff, see how he plays the game and apply what he did to my game. It makes sense perfect because he is a very athletic tackle like I am. He goes all out every time he goes onto the field, and I feel like that relates to me. I just feel like Joe Thomas is the type of guy who I looked up to and I still look up to.”

On how many years he watched Thomas on YouTube:

“I want to say I watched him all of my four years. I have watched him from the time that I got switched to offensive line until I left Cincinnati. I still watch him now so I am pretty sure that is going to continue.”

On if he is excited that he likely will hear from Thomas soon:

“It definitely excites me. I can’t wait to hear what he has to say and just learn something from the best. He is probably one of the best offensive linemen to play the game so I just can’t wait to learn and soak up some things from him.”

On how he initially felt about switching to OL from DL:

“I was not crazy about the idea because I played offensive line in high school so like I said, I was not foreign to the position. I used to always joke with my teammates at Michigan that I could be an NFL offensive lineman when I was on the defensive line. They always told me to be careful what you wish for because I could see it, too. I am blessed.”

On the degree he earned at Cincinnati:

“I graduated with a degree in interdisciplinary studies, which allows me to explore different options and just take different courses.”

On his familiarity with the Browns and Callahan:

“I know a little bit about coach Callahan but not too much. That is what this is all about. I am happy to get to know him some more, sit down and talk to him and just learn as much from him as I can. I feel like I can’t ask for a better coach.”

# # #

DT Tommy Togiai (5.1.21)

On how good it feels to stay in Ohio:

“It is great. I love the state of Ohio and my time at Ohio State and Columbus, and now, I am going to go onto another [Ohio] city in Cleveland. I am excited to get up there.”

On going from a program that annually plays for the national championship to a team that has Super Bowl aspirations this season:

“It is exciting. I am excited to be part of their organization and so blessed to have them pick me in this draft. I am just really excited to get to work and get up there.”

On how he will fit into the Browns defense and how the Browns OL can help make him better:

“Just with the organization, I know they have history, and I know these last couple of years they are on the rise. You see what they did last year. With their D line, too, I think I fit well with them. I can be a diverse player with them, playing inside. Going against their O line, they have a great O line and being able to go against them in practice is only going to make me better. I am just really excited.”

On describing himself as a player:

“I think the thing I do best is being physical at the point of attack, using my hands and being able to lock out O linemen, especially in the run game. I think that is what my best attributes are. The stuff I have been improving on and been working on this offseason in my pass rush is using my hands better, using some more moves and incorporating more moves that I can use.”

On how much pride he takes in his bench press numbers and his strength translating to the field:

“I take big pride in that, just being able to be strong on the field and not letting O linemen being able to move me. I take pride in that, being able to move my ground, push the line of scrimmage back and make plays in the backfield.”

On his reaction to the selection being announced by Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry:

“It was crazy. We got on a Zoom call right before they picked me a couple of minutes before that. Just to be able to talk to the higher ups who are part of the organization is just a blessing. To be in Ohio and see the excitement they had in choosing me, I am just so blessed and grateful for them picking me.”

On his decision to enter the draft this year:

“Making the decision to come out was really just my health. I was healthy coming out after this season and did not know what next season would look like risking injury and then with the pandemic still around. Just kind of that risk factor also is kind of the reason why I came out early.”

On when he expected to be drafted and the experience this weekend:

“I always had a feeling that I was going to go later in the rounds, but I did not know yet exactly where. That is the kind of risk I took going into this year. I was betting on myself, and it worked out for the best. Whatever decision I decided on was the best decision for me, and I am sticking with that. I know this was the best decision for me and I am excited to get to work.”

On joining a Browns DL with DEs Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney:

“It is exciting, especially with what those guys have done with their years in the NFL so far just to be able to go in and learn from them, pick up tips from them and be able to play with them maybe side by side. It is just really exciting. I am blessed with this opportunity to be able to learn from them, pick up anything I can and try to soak in all the information I can from them.”

On if he can pick up pass rush moves from Garrett and Clowney despite having different body types:

“Definitely. Anything I can. I am definitely going to be in their ear, just watching them in practice and try to pick up anything they tell me. It is just going from what they give me, the advice taking it by heart and just trying to use it the best I can.”

On if he can bench press more than the impressive number he did at his pro day:

“I have done more. Previously in my training, I did more. In my training, no one is yelling and cheering, and in that moment, it is kind of just crazy. I think I kind of maybe rushed it a little bit too much trying to get to what I wanted to get. I am still happy, just to be able to have my teammates cheer me on is still a blessing. Just to have them there cheering me on like that was crazy to see so it was good.”

On the biggest strength in his game and if it is in the run or passing game:

“I would definitely say the run. I think I can make an immediate impact with the run. I think that is my No. 1. I think that I can pass rush, as well. I think I am underestimated in that area, but I am still improving that, as well, this offseason. Just excited to get to work.”

On if his best football is still ahead, given he was a one-year starter:

“Definitely. I think my ceiling is really high, I think my potential is through the roof. What I did this past season is only the beginning. Yeah, this was my first year starting so I think the best football of my career is still ahead of me, and I am excited for it.”

On making Ohio his home permanently after going to Ohio State:

“When I first made that decision to go to Ohio State, there are two NFL teams in Ohio so there was a possibility of that, but I never knew that this would happen. I am excited. I love Ohio and my years at Columbus, and I am excited just to get back to Ohio and get back to work.”

On if he hoped to be picked earlier in the draft or if he went around where expected:

“Obviously, everyone would want to go earlier, but I am happy just to be drafted to be. This is kind of where I where I was falling in the second to the fourth – in the middle rounds somewhere in there. I am just blessed that I got drafted and getting ready to go to work.”

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Area scout Colton Chapple (5.1.21)

Opening statement:

“We ended up taking (S) Richard LeCounte (III) from the University of Georgia with our fifth-round pick. This guy has been a three-year starter for them. He comes from a really small town Riceboro, Georgia. Highly recruited out of high school, graduated early and came out and started contributing immediately. Has played both the field safety and the boundary safety. Played under a really good head coach in (Georgia Head Coach) Kirby Smart, a defensive-minded coach. Very excited to get a very experienced, productive safety to come in and compete for us.”

On if a player being highly recruited out of high school is taken into account during the draft process:

“I think it is just a small piece of the puzzle. The majority of the evaluation and what you look at is the tape that he puts out year after year. It is really almost just like a starting point for us, and then from there, it is up to the player and what he puts on tape to where you kind of see him valued at the end of his college career.”

On LeCounte being named the most improved defensive player at Georgia in 2019 and if there was a noticeable change in his game from year to year:

“He was obviously behind a pretty talented group of safeties and secondary players at Georgia, but every year he got more playing time, and every year he proved himself to be a guy who could make plays in the back end there. You definitely saw him take a jump. I think the biggest jump really was that 2019 season where he was a full-time starter opposite of (LA Rams S) J.R. Reed. It was something that, especially looking at him in the summer before this year started, really kind of excited you and wanted to make you watch a little bit more this year to see how he could almost build on that progression moving forward for his last year there.”

On if LeCounte has fully recovered from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident last year:

“He is. It was pretty scary. He was coming home from a game and just wrong place, wrong time. I am pretty sure he was in the hospital for a brief stint. He was able to return. They had him suit up for the Cincinnati game in their bowl game, and he was able to take a few snaps in their victory formation there and then did a full workout for us at his pro day in the spring. We are assuming that he is 100 percent ready to go, and hit the ground running once we get him on campus here.”

On if LeCounte is a prototypical safety or more of a hybrid:

“When I watch him, he is a guy who plays really well in the post as more of a free safety type. Excellent coverage skills especially in zone. He plays with great eyes and anticipation and sees the field really well. I think that the best thing that he does is play zone coverage versus the pass. You will see some of his highlights, he will come down in a hurry in supporting the run, and he looks to run through you as a tackler, which was surprising not being a bigger guy who is like some of the guys we have on campus here. It is exciting to see him both in the run and the pass game and what he can offer for us.”

On if LeCounte is expected to have a role on special teams:

“I think that is always something you want in a prospect, especially on Day 3, but we kind of expect all of our guys to play on special teams. I do not think it is our first-rounders will not and our second-rounders will or that type of deal. He has a special teams history in college. The way to get on the field as quickly as possible usually in an NFL camp is through your performance and your production on special teams. We are going to expect Richard to come in and compete both on the defensive side of the ball and in all four phases of our special teams units.”

On what the Browns have accomplished during the past two offseasons:

“I have learned to never underestimate (Executive Vice president of Football Operations and General Manager) Andrew Berry. The fact that he set the tone early as soon as he got hired he said ‘We are going to be aggressive in adding players and adding competition to our roster.’ He’s been able to follow that up in every single phase, whether it is trades, whether it is free agency or whether we are seeing it now with the draft, his second draft as a decision maker for us. It is really cool to see just the evolution of the roster. I think that even with (Head) Coach (Kevin) Stefanski now and his staff, you get really good healthy conversations on where we are just in terms of depth, what we want to add where we think we are really strong and just going back and forth. To your point now, it is really cool to see over just a brief stint of these past two or three years to see how that roster has evolved and how we have gotten better. I think you have seen that on the field, as well.”

On if the Browns have accomplished everything the team wanted to in the draft so far:

“That is an interesting question because I think the most important thing you want to do in a draft is add talent to your roster and add competition to your roster. When you are able to just go best player available based off of your board and based off of how your scouts, your coaches and your decision makers feel, that is when you walk away from it after today feeling really good about where you are in terms of just building a roster standpoint. In that regard, it is nice to not be handicapped by just drafting based strictly for need, and it is almost a perfect storm when a need lines up with best player available. That is when you kind of start hitting on all cylinders.”

On the transformation the Browns have made on defense this offseason:

“To add the pieces that we have added, it is something where we were 11-5 last year and we are trying to improve upon that. Yeah, we are trying to beat other teams in our division and other teams in our conference and make that extra playoff push, but we are really just building on something that we think is pretty special in this building right now and just trying to take it one day at a time, one practice at a time and one game at a time and try not to look too far ahead or get too caught up with how the roster looks on paper. At the end of the day, it is always going to depend on how we perform on Sundays.”

On Berry having a baby during draft week:

“I was joking with him because I saw him before the second night of the draft, and I said, ‘What are you doing here? Get home.’ If I was in the same situation, he would tell me to go home to my wife. HE is extraordinary to work for. Nobody else like him. It is just a privilege to sort of work under him and learn from what he has been able to do in his short regime already here in Cleveland.”

On what he learned most from Berry:

“It is something that Andrew will never tell you, but he is usually the smartest person in the room at the time, but you’ll never know it. He will absorb all of the comments, he will be able to summarize it and then feed it back to you and pose any questions that he might still have. In terms of just the amount of information and everything on his plate, the fact that he is able to do that on a consistent basis and do it in the very calm demeanor that you see day to day, that is just who Andrew is. It is really, really impressive to sit back and watch that.”

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