CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The 2021 NFL Draft is just two days away and Northeast Ohio is excited to be in the national spotlight this weekend. That included Cleveland Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam.
We could not be more fired up about the draft here at the Browns but also just hosting the draft here in Cleveland,” Dee Haslam said. “Just a great community, the national exposure has just been tremendous. It is so much fun to wake up and watch Good Morning Football and hear them nonstop talking about Cleveland. That is just the best thing and to see the beautiful views.”
The draft because Thursday night at 8 p.m. After going 11-5 in 2020 and winning a playoff game, the Browns will draft in a very rare position, near the end of the first round at pick number 26 barring a trade. So what will the Browns do when they are on the clock, the owner has to know right? That’s what general manager Andrew Berry told the local media last week.
“I do not think Andrew said that (laughter),” Jimmy Haslam said.
All kidding aside, it will be interesting to see exactly what position Berry and head coach Kevin Stefanski target on Thursday night. It will likely be a defensive player, perhaps a defensive lineman, defensive end or a linebacker.
“I think it is different because you are picking at 26 versus, like I said a couple of times, we have picked at one, both times we knew what we were going to do, at four and 10, etc,” Jimmy Haslam said. “There is a tremendous number of great college players like there always are, but there is a reason the NFL has you select in reverse order to how you finish. It would be nice if you could finish high and pick high, but it does not work that way. Andrew and team have been working hard literally since the season has been over. We know they are well-prepared and ready to go.”
No matter whose name is on the card when the Browns make their selection, the Haslams are confident the staff has done their homework on the player.
“Well, they are really, really, really smart – it did not surprise us. It is nice to have that around,” Dee Haslam said. “They are really smart.”
“We had all known Andrew, but we had never seen him as the top person,” Jimmy Haslam said. “He was 33 when he first became GM, and he is 34 now. To see him at such a young age take control of our personnel group and lead it the way he did, and the same thing with Kevin… Kevin had been with the organization for 12-13 years and had never been a head coach anywhere. Yet, if you came to practice that first day or heard his first talk to the team, you would never think, ‘Well, I can tell this guy is new.’ They both stepped right in, they are natural leaders, they are very calm, they are thoughtful, and they plan and organize things well. I do not want to say it was a surprise because we had our expectations, but they surpassed expectations in terms of becoming the top person in personnel and the head coach in the NFL.”
The Haslams hope all the work put in over the last couple years to bring the draft to town will result in a future NFL Draft in Cleveland as well.
“That would be our hope. We are doing a great job,” Dee Haslam said. “I think we are going to have a great crowd down there – obviously, not near what we would of had if it been completely open – but I do think we are being smart about it. We are being careful and smart and starting out with the size that we think we can handle. Like I said, the city is going to be open. There are going to be lots of areas to go to enjoy the draft so you do not necessarily have to be right up on the stage. I do think it is a great example of what you can do. Our hope is that it opens up Cleveland not just for the draft but people see what a great place it is for all kinds of events. We think it just showcases Cleveland terrifically.”
The Browns owners also addressed numerous other topics regarding the Browns and the future for the city Cleveland including a contract extension for quarterback Baker Mayfield to development along the lakefront near FirstEnergy Stadium.