During a Zoom conference call with media members, Callahan explained why the Browns selected Wills even though he played right tackle at Alabama.
“When you watch a player on film, I think in a couple of ways your takeaways are ‘Well, this guy is a player. He is solid. He has athletic ability,’” Callahan said. “With Jedrick, it was a little bit different in that you can feel him on film. He came alive on tape, and you got excited about what he was doing throughout the course of the game.
“A lot of times, people talk about make-up and they talk about characters and all these other things, which are great – which he does have – but he has these intangibles that show up in tangible ways on film. You watch him finish. You watch the detail, the technique. You watch his consistent effort and his stamina throughout the course of the game from start to finish. I think that was the appeal for me.”
Callahan also discussed how the Browns are helping Willis make the transition to protect quarterback Baker Mayfield’s blindside.
“What we have done is we have attacked this thing virtually through our meetings,” Callahan said. “The way that we have laid out our program is quite interesting. We basically have given players video installs to look at and to hear and to try to disseminate information in that avenue. Then what we have done is we have kind of drilled it down where we have met as a group, asked questions and then we have tested them.
“We do Kahoot! programs to test the players and the rookies. Then we have also done individualized work with them, as well. We are trying to maximize our time and efforts and trying to exhaust every conceivable avenue we can to teach the players, especially to catch them up to speed to where the veterans are.”
Callahan said the team also has Wills record himself doing linemen drills, which he then sends back to the coaching staff.
“We have given him a number of drills to do, and we have just really started out with real basic things,” Callahan said. “Just really looking at stance and putting him in the left-handed stance, which he has been there before. What we have done is we have gathered a lot of video, he sends the video back and I can coach him through all of the nuances and techniques of what we want to get him into.
“Additionally, I have also sent him and we will sit down and watch tackles that I have had in my career that have done the same types of things. It has been really positive. He is really a sponge of information. He has absorbed all the content that you can give him and he wants more. I am really excited about him. I am eager to at some point get on the field with him.”
Callahan said helping Wills transition to left tackle reminded him of coaching Barry Sims for the Oakland Raiders.
“Really, our backs were against the wall. I started moving players around,” Callahan said. “I remember (Raiders head coach) Jon Gruden telling me, Barry Sims, he wanted to get rid of him. He wanted him out of the training camp. I asked him and I said, ‘Just give me a couple more days with this guy. I think he can play.’
“He reminded me a lot of (former NFL offensive lineman) John Fina, for those of you who can remember Fina up in Buffalo. I said, ‘Just give me a couple of days with him. I think he can play. This guy has got some talent.’ We put him on the left side, and he was fixture there for about six-seven years and he ended up in San Francisco. He reminded me of Barry just because of the athletic movement, and Barry was not the biggest or stoutest tackle in the league at the time.”
Callahan said he thinks Wills can make the “switch easily because of his athleticism.”
In April, the Browns selected Wills with the 10th overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft.