Browns announce new hires, promotions to football operations staff

The Browns on Friday announced seven new hires to their football operations staff as well as several other role changes and promotions to previous members of the team personnel.

“We’re excited to welcome the newest members of our football operations staff and looking forward to others within our organization receiving expanded roles and additional responsibility,” Executive Vice President of Football Ops and General Manager Andrew Berry said. “We have a number of talented people from various backgrounds that will maximize our efforts to create sustained success. We look forward to these staffing changes reinforcing the diverse, multi-disciplinary and collaborative work environment as we strive to create.”

New Hires:

Hajriz Aliu (Hi-Diss Ah-Lou) – Scouting Assistant: Aliu joins the Browns from UCLA football, where he most recently served as a Defensive Assistant and has contributed across their football operation in scouting and performance related roles. He holds a Business Administration degree with a concentration in Finance from Pacific Lutheran University where he served as the 2018 season football team captain. Born in Pristina, Kosovo, Aliu grew up in Santee, California.

Chris Buford National Scout: Buford joins the Browns after 10 seasons with the Miami Dolphins, the last three of which he was the Southwest area scout. A Baylor alum and defensive tackle, he appeared in 30 career games. He was also a four-time member of the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll list, earning a bachelor’s degree in Education and a master’s in Sports Management.

Ryan Conway Scouting Assistant: Conway worked externally for the Browns as a Scouting Research Film Analyst in the 2022 Draft cycle. A 2021 graduate of the University of Virginia with a bachelor’s degree in Economics, he worked for Virginia Football as a Video Manager and Scouting Assistant during his undergrad years. He has also worked as an Offensive Analyst for Pitt Football and as a Data Analyst for Bates White Economic Consulting.

Shawn Heinlen Southwest Area Scout: Heinlen joins the Browns with 22 years of NFL scouting experience, the last four of which he spent with the Philadelphia Eagles as their Southwest Area scout. He is a Florida native and University of Florida grad, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Finance and a master’s in Sports Administration.

Catherine Raich Assistant GM & VP of Football Operations: Raiche joins the Browns from the Philadelphia Eagles, where she oversaw all areas of football ops and player personnel, including pro and college scouting, contract management, player/staff development and football research. In Catherine’s role here, she will help manage the day-to-day operations of the team and contribute to all strategic roster decisions across the player personnel and football ops verticals. Prior to her start in the NFL, she practiced law in Quebec, where she is originally from. In 2015, she switched her focus to sports, working with the Montreal Alouettes as an intern. By 2017, she was promoted to Assistant GM, becoming the first and only female assistant GM in the CFL at the time. She spent time with the Toronto Argonauts in 2018 before taking a job at the front office of the XFL in 2019.

Jimmy Ray Senior Executive Advisor to the GM: Raye will serve as Senior Executive Advisor to the GM in his new role with the Browns. His NFL career started in 1991 when he signed as a free agent wide receiver to the Los Angeles Rams. After his playing career, he served as the Offensive Quality Control Coach for the Kansas City Chiefs in 1995 before spending much of his career with the San Diego Chargers as a Scout (1996-1999), Director of College Scouting (2000-2007) and Director of Player Personnel (2008-2012). He was hired in 2013 as the VP of Football Operations with the Colts and the Assistant GM of the Houston Texans in 2017.

Cyrus Wolford Scouting Assistant: Wolford is a 2022 graduate from Temple University with a BS in Sport and Recreation Management. In his time at Temple, he worked in recruiting/scouting and equipment. He most recently worked with Penn football as a Player Personnel Intern.

Promotions and Role Changes:

Adam Al-Khayyal – Director Pro Scouting: Al-Khayyal is entering his eighth season with the Browns after beginning as an intern in player personnel and football administration in 2015. He most recently completed his second season as assistant director of pro personnel. He will continue to manage day-to-day pro scouting initiatives and roster transactions and contribute to college scouting and strategic roster decisions. A native of Atlanta, he graduated from Princeton University with a bachelor’s degree in Economics and played wide receiver for the Tigers.

Zach Ayers National Scout: Ayers enters his eighth season in the NFL and with the Browns. After six years of being the west coast area scout, he’ll transition into a primary cross checker in the west region of the country. Ayers is an Oregon native and graduate of Western Oregon University with a bachelor’s in Interdisciplinary Studies.

Glenn Cook – Assistant GM & VP of Player Personnel: Cook enters his seventh year with the organization and adds Assistant GM duties in addition to his role of leading the day-to-day operations of the personnel group. He has been a key part of the senior executive group and will play an expanded role in helping manage the operational functions of the team.

Josh Cox West Coast Area Scout: Cox enters his seventh season with the Browns and in the NFL. After covering the midlands for two years, he will transition into the west coast area responsible scout role and be for all draft-eligible prospects in the area. He began his NFL career with the Browns in 2015 as a film analyst and returned to the club after one year as an area scout for the Senior Bowl in 2019. Cox is a California native and University of Alabama graduate with a degree in Exercise Science.

Sam DeLuca – Assistant Director Pro Scouting: DeLuca is entering his tenth season with the Browns after joining the organization in 2013. His role will evolve within pro scouting, where he’ll continue to assist with the advance scouting of opponents, free agency evaluation, and overall day-to-day operations of the department. DeLuca, a Philadelphia native, graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Legal Studies before joining the Browns in 2013.

Matt Donahoe Southeast Area Scout: Donahoe is entering his tenth season in the NFL and fifth with the Browns after joining the organization in 2018. Matt is transitioning into the southeast region, where he’ll continue to serve as the primary scout for all draft-eligible players in his area. He is a Pittsburgh native who completed his economics degree at Allegheny College, lettered all four years, and was a two-time Academic All-American golf team member.

Joe Dever Mid-Atlantic Area Scout: Dever transitions into the Area Scout role after his second season as a Scouting Assistant for the Browns. In his new role, he will serve as the primary scout for all draft-eligible players in his region. He originally joined the organization as a scouting intern in 2019 after two years as a Graduate Assistant Football Coach at John Carroll University. A Cleveland native and St. Edward High School grad, he earned a Masters of Business Administration from JCU and his Bachelor’s from Mercyhurst University, where he was a two-time All-Conference linebacker and Team Captain.

Tyler Hamblin – Director of Football Operations: Hamblin is entering his sixth season with the Browns after beginning as scouting assistant in player personnel in 2017. He most recently completed his second season as a football operations coordinator. In his new role, he will manage day-to-day football ops initiatives and work closely with High Performance, Equipment, Player Engagement, Video and FIS groups. He will continue to contribute to scouting, football research and strategic roster decisions. Hamblin, a native of Syracuse, NY, graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor of Arts (Sociology) and played tight end for the Crimson.

Callum Mahoney Salary Cap and Contract Analyst: Mahoney has been promoted to Salary Cap and Contract Analyst. After initially joining the Browns in the fall of 2019 as an intern, Mahoney has proved to be a valuable resource on the Contract Management team. His work, in conjunction with Football Information Systems, has streamlined and enhanced systems for logging and analyzing league-wide contract data. In his new role he will continue to focus on salary cap/player contracts issues and trends as well as provide support in player contract negotiations and long-term salary cap planning. Prior to his arrival in Cleveland, Callum had studied at McGill University where he graduated with a degree in Biology.

Shane Normandeau – Football Operations Coordinator: Normandeau is entering his third season with the Browns after joining in 2020 as a scouting assistant. In his new role, he will continue to support the player personnel department both with pro and college scouting assignments and will also add game management to his weekly duties. In addition, he will assist the football operations department in various capacities. A Colby College graduate, he also served as an offensive assistant for his alma mater.

Max Paulus Director College Scouting: Paulus enters his tenth season in the NFL and with the Browns. He will lead the college department’s day-to-day operations, contribute to all strategic decisions regarding draft-eligible prospects and participate in pro scouting initiatives. His previous responsibility was as an area scout for six years in the Mid-Atlantic. Max, a native of Massillon, Ohio, is a Denison graduate where he started at quarterback for three years and served as team captain before joining the Browns.

Bob Quinn Senior Personnel/Coaching Executive: Quinn has been hired into a role that will service both the coaching and personnel staff after serving as a Senior Consultant last season. Prior to his time in Cleveland, Quinn was the GM for the Detroit Lions after serving in a variety of capacities for the New England Patriots from 2000-2015.

Joy Tapajcik – Player Personnel & Football Operations Process Manager: Tapajcik is entering her second season with the organization. She has quickly been making an impact across the football side of the organization and is taking on an enhanced and well-earned set of responsibilities reflecting that impact. She contributes in all areas of scouting, oversees the day-to-day initiatives of the logistics and grounds groups, and spearheads several initiatives spanning both Personnel and Football Ops, including areas of development, people operations and process improvement. Tapajcik joined the Browns last year after distinguished service in the Navy, including many years in Naval Intelligence and with the US Naval Academy’s football program.