Admittedly, it took a while, but the Browns got their guy. Former Browns VP of player personnel, Andrew Berry, who just left town last off-season for a promotion with the Philadelphia Eagles is back in Cleveland as general manager. Andrew Berry has signed a five-year deal, which lines up with HC Kevin Stefanski’s contract seemingly – pairing the two of them together. Berry is considered a rising star in the front office who has drawn praise from guys like Bill Polian and now he is the youngest GM in NFL history at just 32 years old. Polian said that Andrew Berry is “one of the brightest young men we ever had the pleasure of working with,” which is high praise from a hall of fame executive. According to Charles Robinson, a senior NFL reporter at Yahoo, Berry did a significant amount of the work in last year’s push to hire Stefanski and he was reportedly the unanimous decision for the GM job since last week.
With Berry only being a year removed from Cleveland, it’s likely that he would intend to keep everyone currently in the front office in place. Like DePodesta and Stefanski, Berry is an Ivy League graduate as well being a former standout football player and graduate at Harvard University. As a player, he was a 3x time 1st Team All-Ivy League and 2x All-American Cornerback. What really matters though is his resume and reputation in NFL front offices where he quickly rose through the scouting ranks with the Indianapolis Colts before originally coming to Cleveland. He is known as one of the brightest young executives in the league and a great talent evaluator, which seems like a huge get for the Browns. They have given Berry roster control and he also holds the title of Executive Vice President of Football Operations on top of being the GM.
Andrew Berry was a key piece of the Browns decision making during the 2017 draft, which is one of the best in recent memory. In that draft, the Browns selected Myles Garrett, Jabrill Peppers, David Njoku, Larry Ogunjobi and Zane Gonzalez who have done well so far in their careers. Beyond that, they drafted DeShone Kizer, Howard Wilson, Roderick Johnson, Caleb Brantley and Matthew Dayes. The first few names have turned in better careers so far than the second group, but overall, one could argue that the Browns hit on four out of it their first five picks that year, which were all top-65 picks in the draft. Taking advantage of early draft picks is crucial, which is what Andrew Berry proved he could do. As long as they hit every once in a while on later round picks, the fans should expect to see the Browns continue to add top-tier talent through the draft.
With everyone aligned in place with the same vision, there are a few things I expect from the Browns this offseason and beyond. First things first, there will be somewhat of a learning curve since Berry is the youngest GM ever, DePodesta is still learning the ropes as he goes and Stefanski is a first-time head coach. Fans and the organization need to be a little patient and give this regime time to figure things out and as long as they are headed in the right direction, there should be no complaints. Another thing is that there should not be nearly as much roster turnover as the usual regime change since Berry is only one year removed from the organization. Any players drafted during Sashi’s tenure as GM are possibly going to be retained, which could mean that Berry will look to re-sign Joe Schobert and Rashard Higgins. As for acquiring talent, the trades this regime makes could be quite creative like the Brock Osweiler deal and they will likely value draft picks significantly higher than Dorsey did. Beyond that, when they are using the draft picks, I expect them to place a much higher value on character and production, so those are the perspective draft picks to keep an eye on going forward.
In the end, we can all agree that we just want a winner, and we need to rally behind this new regime in hopes that they can finally bring the fans what they want through their shared vision.