Mon, 13 Jul 2020

3 things we learned from Episode 4 of Building the Browns

Cleveland Browns
27 May 2020, 03:24 GMT+10

The Browns rookies have been hard at work at acclimating to everything about their new team under unique circumstances. Rookie minicamps were completed entirely through virtual communication, and team schedules were filled exclusively with Zoom meetings for coaches to relay instruction to the rookie class.

The "Building the Browns" production team sat in on those meetings, too, and dug through footage that expanded back to the scouting combine to piece together a behind-the-scenes look at how rookies have molded into the Browns plans.

Here are our biggest takeaways from inside access seen from Episode 4.

1. The Browns loved Jedrick Wills Jr. from their first meeting

The meeting happened inside a suite at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis during the scouting combine, and it was easy to see why the Browns felt a strong connection with Wills from the beginning.

During the meeting, offensive line coach Bill Callahan had Wills explain and answer questions to about 20 plays from Wills' career at Alabama. Wills' answers were swift and confident, and he didn't show any nerves or hesitation even though he was in a room with seven other Browns personnel, including Executive Vice President and General Manager Andrew Berry and coach Kevin Stefanski.

"We spent a lot of time with Jedrick at the combine really drilling on football intelligence," Berry said. "We talked about what he was familiar with in the protections and run game, and he really passed those tests in flying colors. He was really one of the stronger guys in that group that we met with."

The questions weren't only about what Wills was doing as a right tackle, the primary position he played with the Crimson Tide. Callahan prodded Wills with questions about left tackle, too, where Wills is now set to play after he was selected by Cleveland with the 10th overall pick. Wills didn't flinch.

"If you're the left guard and the left tackle," Callahan said in the meeting as he pointed at the video screen, "explain to me what they're doing there?"

Wills explained the play as Callahan nodded his head, but the test wasn't done.

"If you're on the 'in,' why are they outside in?" Callahan asked about his teammate's positioning. "Shouldn't they be inside out?

Callahan knew the answer, but he wanted to see if Wills did, too.

"The inside-out was only for a five-man protection," Wills said.

"Great," Callahan said and repeated three times. The answer was just what he was looking for.

"He impressed me with that answer knowing what the issue was, what the problem was and what the correction was," Callahan said. "That was big time. It indicated to me that he has a broader spectrum of knowledge about the game."

2. The LSU bond on defense will be very real

Grant Delpit, Jacob Phillips and Greedy Williams - all LSU alums - will be one of the top trios to watch when the Browns can finally hit the field for their first on-field practice.

The "Building the Browns" production crew got each of them together with Corey Raymond, the Tigers cornerbacks coach, to talk about their opportunity in Cleveland, but they also exchanged playful jabs and laughs.

"Greedy is funny," said Phillips, a linebacker whom the Browns selected in the third round of the 2020 draft. "He's like a big kid. On the field, he's serious, but off the field, he's just all jokes."

Each player will have to earn their way to a starting position come training camp, and the Browns are hoping that some of their on-field college chemistry will carry over to Cleveland. Judging by some snippets of their group video call, it will.

"LSU in this house, man," Williams said. "Andrew Berry, my boy. He knows what he's doing."

3. An inside look at Donovan Peoples-Jones' draft experience

Peoples-Jones didn't expect to still be on the board when the fifth round of the 2020 draft concluded. He was waiting for the call to come, but he couldn't stand watching names other than his own show up on the TV screen.

So, he decided to take a quick shower and clear his mind.

The timing wasn't great. As Peoples-Jones was about to step under the hot water, the Browns gave him a call.

"I grabbed (my phone), looked at it and it said Cleveland, Ohio," Peoples-Jones said. "I hope this isn't a random person in Cleveland or a friend I know in Cleveland."

Peoples-Jones' first instinct was right - it was the Browns. But he needed to hop on a Zoom call with Stefanski and Berry. Problem was, he still didn't have a shirt on.

"You gonna put a shirt on or what?" said Peter John-Baptiste, the senior vice president of communications, with a smile.

"Yeah, I'm putting one on right now!" Peoples-Jones replied with a laugh.

It's been smooth for Peoples-Jones since the call, however, and even though he landed later in the draft than he originally hoped, he's eager to earn a mark as one of the top late-round steals of the draft.

"I honestly wouldn't want to be anywhere else," Peoples-Jones said. "I'm ready. I want to prove everybody wrong."

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