Andrew Berry’s day one picks in the NFL Draft will make or break this franchise, plain and simple. Now, in what appears to be a successful first draft in 2020 as the general manager of the Cleveland Browns, it is worth looking back and seeing how he did during his first stint with the organization.
During that time, Berry served as the Vice President of Player Personel and helped a front office led by Sashi Brown do what it could to turn the Browns into a winner. Those plans would never come to fruition during their tenure as Brown was fired and Berry would move onto the Philadelphia Eagles where he would serve as the Vice President of Football Operations alongside GM Howie Roseman.
When he was the V.P. of Player Personel from 2016 to 2018, Berry and the front office made several picks that would become cornerstones for the franchise to this day. But, he’s also had his fair share of misses.
The players drafted while Berry was a Browns executive
Myles Garrett (2017)
The latest to get paid in the 2017 NFL Draft class is Myles Garrett. He was elected first overall in 2017 and since then, he has been a wrecking ball going super Saiyan on opposing quarterbacks since arriving. He has collected 30.5 sacks in his three seasons with the team and came up one short of setting the team record in 2018. If not for an injury, odds are he would’ve been able to set it.
Of all the day one picks from Berry’s first stint with the Browns, I would argue this one has made the most impact. Garrett was the player to start the culture change and create actual expectations for the team going forward. He is without a doubt one of the most important players on the team now and the foreseeable future.
David Njoku (2017)
Njoku recently made this decision a toss-up by requesting a trade from Cleveland. However, Njoku has proven when he is healthy and apart of the gameplan, looking at you Freddie Kitchens, he is a very valuable asset and one of the top young tight ends in the league.
With new head coach Kevin Stefanski coming in, many had thought with the new personnel sets that Njoku may find himself being a perfect complement to Austin Hooper, the best is yet to come for the new free-agent signee as well. Only time will tell if this relationship can be spared.
Baker Mayfield (2018)
The pick that finally gave Cleveland a quarterback, fingers crossed, after years of missing and hoping one would pan out Baker Mayfield, has become the new face of the franchise. After coming in a series before halftime on September 20, 2018, against the Jets to lead a comeback in primetime the expectations have gone through the roof ever since.
Mayfield has already played for three head coaches and now on his third coordinator, no one can be expected to succeed under these circumstances. This year will be pivotal to his growth obviously but he has a clean slate with a surrounding cast and staff to get the most out of him finally.
Denzel Ward (2018)
I can still remember the touchdown Antonio Brown caught over Denzel Ward. Ward had played Brown perfectly and was in stride with him through his whole route but he was still beat. Why am I talking about a play where he gave up a touchdown? Because if he can do that to Brown before he went downhill, then he will do just fine with the rest of the league.
Ward has battled injuries but when he is on the field he has lockdown ability and that is going to be valuable as he grows for at least the next three years in Cleveland on a defense on the come-up.
Players Berry missed on
Corey Coleman (2016)
Cleveland entered the 2016 offseason with the second overall pick and traded that pick to the Philadelphia Eagles who would in turn select their franchise signal-caller, Carson Wentz. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy with Mayfield leading the team, but avoiding a 1-31 stretch over two years with Wentz would have been preferable.
Even without the pick taking Wentz, Coleman never found his way into contributing any meaningful reps for the longterm, and when he faced the battle of a new staff in 2018, they didn’t have time for the nonsense and traded him for a seventh-round pick in 2020.
Jabrill Peppers (2017)
Another one that I was not sure where to put was Jabrill Peppers. Peppers was a piece in the trade that landed Cleveland Odell Beckham Jr. so he served to be valuable to Dave Gettleman. The problem is when you trade back into the first round to select a guy you plan on him being a big piece of the future for years to come.
What does the future hold?
In the 2020 NFL Draft, Berry and his staff rolled with who many thought was the top tackle in the class in Jedrick Wills and all signs point to him being an excellent selection. He does need to move from right tackle to left so that remains to be seen if it will create any issue but in terms of traits and projections, Wills appears to be another hit to add to the long list of them from day one.
Berry needs to continue to hit his picks in day one of the draft, if he can, we should see immediate results from a team that is already so close on paper. As we dive into days two and three of his draft resume, we may see more misses than hits but I think the team and franchise as a whole may finally be in the right hands.