General manager Andrew Berry took four months to finalize his personnel staff.
He had a lot to do.
The Browns announced seven full-time hires and 20 promotions/title changes Friday, a few of which had been previously reported. The most significant moves are Kwesi Adofo-Mensah hired as vice president of football operations, Ryan Grigson hired as senior football advisor, Glenn Cook promoted to VP of player personnel, Ken Kovash promoted to VP of player personnel process and development and Andrew Healy promoted to VP of research and strategy.
“I am excited about the group,” Berry said in the news release. “It was a very long process because we were diligent about a number of not only the senior-level positions but even entry-level positions.”
Adofo-Mensah will serve as Berry’s right-hand man, essentially assistant general manager. Eliot Wolf served in that capacity under GM John Dorsey, who wouldn’t accept a reduced role and left after last season.
Adofo-Mensah spent the past seven years with the 49ers, the last two as director of football research and development.
“I think he brings a nice blend of both an insider and an outsider perspective to football,” Berry said. “I think probably the best part of him is just the person. He is humble, high integrity, a continuous learner, true growth mindset and he has fantastic interpersonal and people skills — in terms of someone who can be both a strategic thought partner with all the big decisions that we make, someone who has the capacity to be an outstanding manager as he helps run the day-to-day of the team, and then just someone who is going to get along with the really strong group that we have already. I think he is really a perfect fit to add to the mix.”
Grigson was GM of the Colts from 2012-16 and served as a draft consultant to Berry in February, March and April. He was a senior personnel executive in 2017 under then-Browns GM Sashi Brown.
“I’m just really, really grateful,” Grigson said. “I’ve told them I’m an open book and they’re welcome to bounce things off me — and I know they’re very open to that — just through things I’ve learned, the wisdom gained and trial and error, victories, mistakes, successes. I feel like I have an experienced background and I’ve been fortunate the vast majority of it has been with winning programs. I figure I can help in that aspect because I kind of know what it looks like.”
Berry worked with Grigson in Indianapolis, getting elevated from scout to pro scouting coordinator.
“We obviously have a long-time relationship. He was one of the first people to make a significant bet on me early in my career. That is not the reason that he is here,” Berry said, “He is here because I think he is very good.”
The other additions to the staff are: national scout Charles Walls, Northwest area scout Josh Cox, lead data scientist Nate Sterken, data architect/systems developer Andrew Jackson and software developer Kevin Lewis.
The other promotions/title changes are: Dan Saganey as director of player personnel, Dave Giuliani as director of research and strategy, Mike Cetta as director of scouting research, Adam Al-Khayyal as assistant director of pro personnel, Tyler Hamblin as football operations coordinator, Zach Wigmore as scouting research coordinator, Megan Rock as player personnel coordinator, Shaun Herock as national scout, Colton Chapple as Southeast area scout, Dan Zegers as Midwest area scout, Jimmy Noel as Northeast area scout, Branden Francis as pro scout, Rod Streater as scouting assistant, Joe Dever as scouting assistant, Debra Kruszynski as executive assistant player personnel/coaching, Bradley DeAngelis as director of football information systems and Zach Zelinsky as senior software developer.
Berry, who’s a GM for the first time and the youngest in the history of the league at 33 years old, has a mix of traditional football roles and analytics positions in his front office.
“I am excited because I think we have brought a lot of smart, talented people and put them in key roles. But also, everyone is not a carbon copy of one another — they bring different perspectives, different experiences, different viewpoints and that is what is going to push us to better decision making,” he said. “We really are going to consider all the different perspectives and value them.”
Before entering the NFL, Adofo-Mensah was a commodities trader. He played basketball at Princeton, earning a bachelor’s degree in economics. He got his master’s in economics from Stanford.
“My football foundation has been put in by some of the greats and all I’ve done is try to learn and see the intuition put into it,” he said, mentioning the people he worked with in San Francisco. “I’m not the guy who’s going to tell a traditional scout a trait is wrong or something like that. I know enough to ask good questions and see how we can get better information and make a good decision.”
Cook joined the Browns under Brown in 2016 as assistant director of scouting. As VP or player personnel, he will contribute to all football and strategy decisions while also leading the day-to-day operations of the player personnel department.
“He is a talented evaluator and he has got really great people skills,” Berry said. “I think he will work well, not only managing our scouts but also our scouting research function, which is really a hybrid area between traditional evaluation and research and strategy.”
Kovash, who joined the Browns in 2013, will assist Berry and the senior football staff on all roster and strategic football decisions while also focusing on roster strategy, player personnel process, football innovation and professional development across all of football operations.
Healy arrived in Cleveland in 2016 after working as an economics professor. He will lead the integration process of data and advanced insights into all parts of football operations.