Browns empower analytics staff with personnel decisions

Editor's note: Tony Grossi covers the Cleveland Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR.

Changes brewing: The Browns are promoting two members of their analytics staff to more prominent roles in player personnel.

Ken Kovash, formerly director of football research, will assist Andrew Berry, vice president of player personnel, in leading the personnel department. Berry, 28, was pro scouting coordinator the past four years with the Indianapolis Colts but has no college scouting experience.

Another name on the way up is Kevin Meers, formerly listed as football research analyst.

Kovash and Meers, who both joined the Browns in 2013, will play “significant roles” in the team’s new, “innovative” football operations department, according to a team source.

Kovash is a graduate of Cal-Berkeley with a degree in economics and a master’s in business administration from University of Chicago. Meers graduated from Harvard University in 2014 and also wrote analytics pieces for the high-brow sports website, Grantland, which is now defunct.

They join Harvard grads Sashi Brown, executive vice president of football operations; Paul DePodesta, chief strategy officer; and Berry in a football operations department heavy in brain power and light in football experience.

Kovash worked three years for the Dallas Cowboys as senior analytics manager and Meers interned in analytics with the Cowboys while Alec Scheiner was with that club. Scheiner, Browns president, has taken a conspicuously lower profile in the Browns’ new regime, but has masterminded the whole restructuring, according to a league source.

The introduction of young, non-football people into personnel makes for a predictable clash in cultures with the ultra-experienced staff of scouts previously put in place by former GM Ray Farmer.

Those scouts are under contract through the draft and are doing the grass-roots scouting. Then they will hand over their reports to the young guns with the diplomas, who will make the important decisions on the draft.

Inevitably, there will be changes in the scouting staff after the draft.

Quick hitters: The Browns don’t plan to make a roster decision at this time on Armonty Bryant, the pass rusher who was indicted on Wednesday felony drug charges of possession of Oxycodone and Adderall. Bryant, the Browns’ seventh-round pick in 2013, entered the NFL with an arrest for selling marijuana to an undercover cop at East Central Oklahoma and had a DUI after the draft. He is sure to be facing an NFL suspension when the 2016 season begins. ... Center Alex Mack has to give written notice by March 4 if he intends to opt out from the final three years of his contract and enter free agency. So far, he has not tipped his hand, but it would be a big surprise if he did not exercise that option.

More quick hitters: At the Super Bowl, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said the club reached out to Johnny Manziel “several times” since a domestic incident with his ex-girlfriend in Dallas on Jan. 29, which has resulted in a Dallas police investigation for possible assault. Has the club heard from Manziel yet? A source said “there is no update to provide on Johnny.” ... There is also no update on when the league will hear receiver Josh Gordon’s appeal for reinstatement from indefinite suspension.