Cleveland Browns promote two as front office rebuild continues
By Thomas Moore
The Cleveland Browns promoted two members of their front office as the club continues to rebuild with an eye toward analytics.
The Cleveland Browns continued the rebuilding of their broken front office on Thursday with the promotion Ken Kovash and Kevin Meers to new positions.
The promotions were first reported by cleveland.com.
Kovash, the team’s former director of football research, will work along with vice president of player personnel Andrew Berry to run the team’s scouting department. Meers, the Browns’ football research analyst, will now lead the team’s football research department.
Kovash has spent the past three seasons with the Browns after being hired away from the Dallas Cowboys, where he spent three years working as the Cowboys’ senior analytics manager.
Related: Cleveland Browns new approach a refreshing change
Meers interned with the Cowboys as a football research intern in 2012 and the Browns in 2013 before graduating from Harvard in 2014. He adds another layer of crimson to the Browns, joining executive vice president Sashi Brown, chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta and Berry among the Harvard alumni now working at team headquarters in Berea.
Interestingly, both Kovash and Meers joined the Browns during former CEO Joe Banner’s one year in town. Banner is a proponent of an analytical approach to building a football team, and set the wheels in motion three years ago for the revamped front office the Browns now employ.
“Look, it’s an element,” Banner told cleveland.com of the new analytical approach in a 2013 story. “Some of the statisticians think it should dictate what you do and that would be a terrible mistake, but if you integrate it as another piece of information it can be very valuable.
Related: The Cleveland Browns, analytics and Sashi Brown
“We are going to have a set of beliefs and everything is going to be consistent with them. Time will prove whether we are right or wrong . . . This is what we believe in and we are going to bring in people who are comfortable with it or are comfortable implementing that kind of stuff into how we do things.”
Of course, those analytics did not help Banner and former general manager Mike Lombardi during the 2013 NFL Draft. The Browns only selected five players that year, and with linebacker Armonty Bryant facing felony drug charges, the team may soon only have linebacker Barkevious Mingo to show for Banner and Lombardi’s lone year in charge of the draft.
Nor did the analytics do anything for former general manager Ray Farmer, who ignored them — or allowed himself to be forced to ignore them — in 2014 when the Browns made the mistake of selecting quarterback Johnny Manziel in the first round of the draft.
To ensure the Browns – who currently hold the No. 2 overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft – don’t continue to make those same type of mistakes the front office needs to develop the trust of the head coach Hue Jackson and his staff.
More from Dawg Pound Daily
- How the Browns could maximize Nick Chubb in 2023
- Can Deshaun Watson get to Patrick Mahomes level for Cleveland Browns?
- 3 Cleveland Browns who should see an expanded role in 2023 and 1 who should not
- Is Marcus Davenport on the Browns radar in 2023?
- 5 Free agents from Super Bowl LVII Cleveland Browns should target
“Outsiders, I think, look at it like you plop down this analytics group, and, boom, you have all the answers,” team president Alec Scheiner told ohio.com in 2013. “But it’s like any other business. You have to gain trust from people, find out what they need, find out how they run their business.
“I think it’s very hard for people to accept you recommending what they should do if you don’t know their business. So spend time just getting to know their challenges, what their day to day looks like, as much time as you can, so that when you say, ‘Hey, what about this,’ they’re not close-minded to it.”
The Browns have gone all in on embracing analytics in their latest front office rebuild in an attempt to finally break the cycle of losing that has enveloped the team since 1999.
Whether or not it works is still in the “remains to be seen” file, but at least no one can accuse the team of following a path that has always ended in the “same old Browns.”