Browns announce new hires and promotions to football operations staff

The Browns on Thursday announced seven new hires for their football operations staff, as well as several other role changes and promotions for former team staff members.

“We are pleased to welcome the newest additions to our Football Operations staff and look forward to others gaining expanded roles and additional responsibilities within our organization,” said Executive Vice President of Football Ops and General Manager Andrew Berry. “We have a talented workforce from diverse backgrounds who will maximize our efforts for sustained success. We look forward to these personnel changes that will strengthen the diverse, multidisciplinary and collaborative work environment we strive to create.”

New employees:

Hajriz Aliu (Hi-Diss Ah-Lou) – Assistant Scout: Aliu joins the Browns from UCLA football, where he most recently served as a defensive assistant and has served in scouting and performance-related roles throughout the football operation. He holds a business administration degree with a concentration in finance from Pacific Lutheran University, where he served as captain of the 2018 football team of the season. Aliu was born in Pristina, Kosovo and grew up in Santee, California.

Chris Buford – National Scout: Buford joins the Browns after 10 seasons with the Miami Dolphins, of which he was a Southwest area scout for the last three years. A Baylor graduate and defensive tackle, he appeared in 30 career games. He was also a four-time honorary member of the Big 12 commissioners and earned a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in sports management.

Ryan Conway – Scouting Assistant: Conway worked externally for the Browns in the 2022 draft cycle as a Scouting Research Film Analyst. 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 undergraduate 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 comes to the Browns with 22 years of NFL scouting experience, the last four of which he spent with the Philadelphia Eagles as a Southwest Area Scout. A Florida native, he is a graduate of the University of Florida, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in finance and a master’s degree in sports administration.

Catherine Raiches – Assistant GM & VP of Football Operations: Raiche joins the Browns from the Philadelphia Eagles, where she oversaw all aspects of football ops and player personnel, including pro and college scouting, contract management, player/personnel 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 squad decisions in the areas of player staffing and football ops. Before joining the NFL, she practiced law in Quebec, where she is originally from. In 2015, she shifted her focus to the sport and worked as an intern with the Montreal Alouettes. 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 accepting a job in the XFL’s front office in 2019.

Jimmy Raye – 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 began in 1991 when he signed as a free agent wide receiver with 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 Players’ Personnel Director (2008-2012). He was hired as VP of Football Operations for the Colts in 2013 and Assistant GM for the Houston Texans in 2017.

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Cyrus Wolford – Scouting Assistant: Wolford is a 2022 graduate of Temple University with a BS in Sports and Recreation Management. During his time at Temple, he worked in recruiting/scouting and equipment. Most recently, he worked at Penn Football as a player staff intern.

Promotions and role changes:

Adam Al-Khayyal – Director Pro Scouting: Al-Khayyal is entering his eighth season with the Browns after starting in 2015 as a player personnel and football administration intern. He most recently completed his second season as Assistant Director of Pro Staff. 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 as a wide receiver for the Tigers.

Zach Ayer – National Scout: Ayers is entering his eighth season in the NFL and with the Browns. After six years as a West Coast area scout, he will transition to a primary cross-checker in the western region of the country. Ayers is an Oregon native and graduated from Western Oregon University with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies.

Glencook – Assistant GM & VP of Player Personnel: Cook begins his seventh year with the organization, adding Assistant GM responsibilities in addition to his role as day-to-day manager of the personnel group. He has been an important part of the senior staff group and will have an expanded role in managing the operational functions of the team.

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

Sam DeLuca – Assistant Director Pro Scouting: DeLuca is beginning his tenth season with the Browns after joining the organization in 2013. His role will continue to develop within Pro Scouting, where he will continue to help with pre-scouting 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 administration and law 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 moving to the Southeast region, where he will continue to serve as the primary scout for all draft-eligible players in his area. A Pittsburgh native, he received his bachelor’s degree in economics from Allegheny College, lettered every four years and was a twice-a member of the Academic All-American golf team.

Joe Dever – Mid-Atlantic Area Scout: Dever is transitioning to the area scout role after completing 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 in 2019 as a scouting intern after spending two years as a graduate assistant football coach at John Carroll University. A Cleveland native and graduate of St. Edward High School, he received his Masters of Business Administration from JCU and his Bachelors from Mercyhurst University, where he was a two-time All-Conference linebacker and team captain.

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Tyler Hamblin – Director of Football Operations: Hamblin is entering his sixth season with the Browns, having started in 2017 as an assistant scout on player staff. He most recently completed his second season as football operations coordinator. In his new role, he will lead the day-to-day initiatives of the football departments, working closely with the Elite Sport, Equipment, Player Engagement, Video and FIS groups. He will continue to contribute to scouting, football research and strategic squad decisions. A native of Syracuse, NY, Hamblin graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor of Arts degree (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 as an intern in the fall of 2019, Mahoney has proven to be a valuable resource on the Contract Management team. His work in association with Football Information Systems has streamlined and improved systems for logging and analyzing league-wide contract data. In his new role, he will continue to focus on salary cap/player contract issues and trends, as well as assist with player contract negotiations and long-term salary cap planning. Before arriving in Cleveland, Callum had attended McGill University, where he received his degree in biology.

Shane Normandeau – Football operations coordinator: Normandeau is entering his third season with the Browns, having joined in 2020 as an assistant scout. In his new role, he will continue to support player HR with both pro and college scouting assignments, and will also expand his weekly duties to include game management. In addition, he will support the Football Operations department in various roles. A graduate of Colby College, he also served as an offensive assistant for his alma mater.

Max Paul – Director College Scouting: Paulus is entering his tenth season in the NFL and with the Browns. He will oversee the day-to-day operations of the college department, contributing to all strategic decisions regarding qualifying prospects and participating in pro-scouting initiatives. Previously, he served as an area scout in the mid-Atlantic for six years. Max, a native of Massillon, Ohio, is a Denison graduate where he started as a quarterback for three years and served as the team captain before joining the Browns.

Bob Quinn – Senior Personnel/Coaching Executive: Quinn has been hired into a role that will serve both the coaching and HR teams, having served as Senior Consultant the previous season. Prior to his time in Cleveland, Quinn was the GM of the Detroit Lions, having served in various 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 made an impact across the football side of the organization and is taking on an expanded and well-deserved range of responsibilities that reflect that influence. She contributes in all areas of scouting, oversees the day-to-day initiatives of the Logistics and Grounds groups, and leads several initiatives spanning both HR and Football Ops, including areas of development, HR operations and process improvement. Tapajcik joined the Browns last year after distinguished service in the Navy, including many years in Naval Intelligence and the US Naval Academy football program.

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