As Andrew Berry and the Browns prepare for what is hopefully a once in a lifetime situation, they will face many new challenges. The rookie front office team wasn’t able to meet face to face with players after the combine and almost every pro day was canceled. This time is usually critical for draft analysis and understanding if a player is a good fit.
In order to combat what this pandemic has done to impact this draft, here are 5 keys to nailing the first-ever “Virtual NFL Draft” format:
It’s no secret that the new staff relies heavily on data and analytics. Diving heavily into key performance indicators and in-depth statistics will be used as a factor in ranking prospects. In theory, that should give an advantage during these times without human contact. Paul DePodesta was brought in four years ago thanks to his famed success using analytics in the MLB. Since that time, one would imagine he’s compiled a lot of useful data. With what seems like the most alignment we’ve seen between the front office and coaches, this should be very helpful in the coming days.
There are two opposing thoughts on how being aggressive with trades in this draft could help combat the current situation. The first is to trade up as much as possible. You could look at this as “quality over quantity”. On the other side would be trading back and playing more of a “numbers game”. It seems more likely that without a stockpile of picks like we’ve seen in years past, that the Browns would trade back. There is also the possibility of trading a pick and possibly a player for a veteran starter. Given the current situation, don’t be surprised if there is more movement than normal come Thursday.
The best way to get to know someone without actually meeting is over video chat. This will give scouts the opportunity to read body language and facial expressions when interviewing a prospect. Video chat is also a great way for the Browns team to stay connected with each other. Berry even have credit to the IT staff in his press call with the media last week. Utilizing technology to the fullest right now is the best way for the Browns to stay connected.
What a prospect did in college is always one of the most important factors in determining NFL potential. Thanks to almost every game being broadcast, there is an endless amount of tape that can be watched. Keying in on how the player performed against top tier talent is typically the first thing scouts will look for. They’ll also key in on prospects best and worst games to understand strengths and weaknesses. Now more than ever, it’s time to “go back and watch the tape”.
To get a better understanding of what type of a teammate or person someone is, oftentimes the best route is to ask those around them. Finding high school coaches or even former opposing coaches is a helpful place to look. On top of that, every organization has a network of scouts and consultants that are your eyes and ears throughout the season. It is in-depth research like this that often leads to nailing on a later round pick. Since the Browns turned over so many front-office positions, this could pose an added challenge heading into the draft. Let’s hope the new staff was able to get to work quickly and have done their homework on potential prospects.
Flexibility is the word that comes to mind when thinking about preparing for this draft. This year will be different than ever before, and relying on the information that is still available combined with the power of technology will be critical for success. Throw in a bold and aggressive strategy and the Browns will make the most out of the 2020 NFL Draft!