Heading into the 2022 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns had seven selections. After Cleveland general manager and Executive Vice President Andrew Berry flipped a second-rounder for additional picks, the Browns ended up with nine fresh faces on their roster.
Overall, Cleveland was one of the more aggressive teams trade-wise over the weekend, which ended up being the right strategy. The Browns had several holes depth-wise throughout their roster, especially on defense and at skill positions. Thankfully, they were able to address that and then some. Today, Right Down Euclid will grade every pick that Cleveland made during the 2022 NFL Draft, grade how the Browns performed overall and, finally, grade something that almost transpired over the weekend.
Pick no. 68 – Martin Emmerson, CB, Mississippi State
When it was announced that Mississippi State's Martin Emmerson would be Cleveland's first choice in the 2022 NFL Draft it came as a bit of a surprise. Cornerback is one of the bigger positions of strength for the Browns and, with a glaring need at defensive line and wide receiver, it was a bit of a head-scratcher.
But, after Cleveland traded Troy Hill to the Los Angeles Rams for a 2023 fifth-round pick, adding Emmerson makes a bit more sense since it at least paves the way for him to play. Emerson has great size, and length and is a rangy corner who moves sideline to sideline well. His size could mean that the Browns could use him as both a safety and corner and add some versatility.
With how potent some of the offenses are in the AFC, that could be vital for the team's overall success long-term. Last season with the Bulldogs, Emmerson only allowed one reception of over 25 yards. Overall he is a pretty good player that isn’t afraid to make a tackle in the run game, he may need some time but has the potential upside to be a solid contributor for the Browns.
Pick no. 78 – Alex Wright, Edge, UAB
Ten spots after Emmerson, Cleveland addressed one of their biggest needs by grabbing former UAB Blazer Alex Wright. He’s a large defensive end that had good production in his last year in college. Wright led UAB in sacks (7.0), tackles for loss (7.5) and forced fumbles last season. Heading into the pros, Wright is tapped as a player who oozes with potential to further develop.
Ideally, Wright will have a specific role in year one, then grow into a larger role, likely bookending superstar Myles Garrett. But, outside of Garrett, Wright joins an edge depth chart with lots of inconsistency and/or inexperience with Chase Winovich, Curtis Weaver, Stephen Weatherly and Isaac Rochell rounding things out.
Wright will likely look much different in pads within a couple of years. His current play lacks recognition, sophistication and technique. However, he's a young player who flashes and still posts good rush production, albeit versus lesser blockers while in college. Wright will require a runway for development, but he's worth a middle-round selection from the Browns as a potential three-down starter.
Pick no. 99 – David Bell, WR, Purdue
Continuing with an overall theme of grabbing the best player available in regards to need, Cleveland grabbed Purdue's David Bell with a compensatory third-round selection. Note: This is also where Berry and the Browns start to hit dingers on their drafting as well. Sure, Bell is a bit of a polarizing player depending on how you look at him. During the pre-draft process, the former Boilermaker saw his draft stock fall after some suboptimal athletic test results.
Thankfully, that doesn't paint the whole picture as Bell is a different player on the field compared to the results of his evaluation. During his career at Purdue, he was an incredibly productive receiver and finished this season with 93 receptions for 1,286 yards and 6 touchdowns. He also showed that he is a solid route runner that has the ability to catch everything as well. Not only that but, he is great in contested situations that allow him to go up and get the football.
It's been reported that the Browns are huge fans of Bell's ability to run after the catch and that may give some insight into how he's utilized. Bell will likely be used in the slot right away, taking over for former Cleveland veteran Jarvis Landry. The former Purdue wideout will compliment Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones well on the field and will also make the receiving room overall better. Bell could also give the Browns some creativity on special teams too. Solid pick.
Pick no. 108 – Perrion Winfrey, DT, Oklahoma
It's not very often that teams can draft a potential starting-caliber player at this point in the draft. Well, Cleveland might have done just that with former Oklahoma defensive tackle Perrion Winfrey. The former Sooner has an explosive get-off and heavy hands. Winfrey also flashed at the Senior Bowl, which improved his draft stock and made teams take notice.
Despite the promising potential, Winfrey does have flaws in his game as well. He's frequently late off the ball and has a tight lower half as well as disappointing lateral agility that makes him a liability against move-blocking schemes. Thankfully, like Wright, there's still room for Winfrey to grow and develop into his overall God-given potential.
Winfrey needs a lot of work in the run game but he has the tools, motor, and talent to develop into that. For now, he fits the immediate need of an interior pass rusher which the Browns desperately needed. Playing alongside Garrett and company will certainly help that and Cleveland may have a potential long-term starter on their hands. Also, another Berry dinger.
Former LSU kicker Cade York was a deadeye in college and could finally give the Browns stability at the position.
Pick no. 124 – Cade York, K, LSU
Despite the LSU football program losing all its luster and stability from the Joe Burrow era, Cade York remained consistent. That'll be a much-needed reprieve in Cleveland, as the Browns have struggled to find a kicker since Phil Dawson was last booting them in 2012. In York, Cleveland maybe can say they have finally found their answer.
York has not missed an extra point in the last two seasons and in his career has made 15 of 19 attempts from 50 or more yards. He also has made 81.8 percent of his field goals and 97.6 percent of his extra points over three seasons at LSU. York has the leg strength to kick in Cleveland and hopefully finally give the Browns some consistency and reliability at the position.
The Browns have two other kickers on the roster in Chase McLaughlin, last season’s starter, as well as Chris Blewitt, who was signed to the practice squad late last season. If Cleveland is serious about winning a championship, they'll need to be accurate in every facet offensively. They may have found that in York. If you hear the sound of wood breaking that's just Berry hitting another home run.
Pick no. 156 – Jerome Ford, RB, Cincinnati
The Browns taking Cincinnati's Jerome Ford doesn't say much about this upcoming season but more so about the team's running back depth long-term. Ford does a lot of things similar to what Kareem Hunt does for Cleveland right now but, will need time to settle into his role. With Nick Chubb being the only back under contract in 2023, that would be the ideal time for Ford to settle in with the Browns offensively.
The former Bearcat is an explosive runner with good vision and a great player in the open field catching the football as a receiving option. Ford had a ton of production this season for Cincinnati and helped get them to the College Football Playoff. He's a talented, explosive option out of the backfield with soft hands and the speed to mismatch linebackers out in space. The pieces aren't all in place, but Ford could have a future as a change-of-pace slasher with third-down value. Ford also could be an interesting piece for head coach Kevin Stefanski long-term as well.
Pick no. 202 – Michael Woods II, WR, Oklahoma
Cleveland drafted their second wide receiver of the weekend in the sixth round by adding Michael Woods of Oklahoma. Woods isn’t a player that will blow you away with his speed but he possesses good athleticism for his size and can make some plays after the catch. The former Sooner isn’t a lock to make the roster but he is a decent player that will have a chance to battle in camp with the Browns and possibly stick as a special teams player.
Pick no. 223 – Isaiah Thomas, Edge, Oklahoma
Former Oklahoma defensive prospect Isaiah Thomas was projected to go earlier by some but, fell to the Browns in the seventh round. Thomas has a quick first step off the line and finished with 7.0 sacks and 7.5 sacks the last two seasons in college. He also combines efficient hands and an instinctive feel for angles to attack the edge and the pocket. Thomas needs to build his lower half to improve rush consistency against physical tackles, though. Thomas' length and pass-rush talent could help him find sub-package snaps while he attempts to develop into a starting-caliber end. All in all, not a bad pickup for this late in the draft for the Browns. Let's just hope it goes better than the last time Isaiah Thomas wore a Cleveland uniform.
Pick no. 246 – Dawson Deaton, C, Texas Tech
To wrap things up in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Browns selected former Texas Tech lineman Dawson Deaton. The former Red Raider is interesting as his body type is nowhere near the NFL norm for the center position. Despite his long-legged frame, he actually plays with adequate strength as a base blocker. He has the body control to adjust and land on second-level targets but might not be able to hold his ground sufficiently against NFL power. Ideally, he's what Cleveland wants from its offensive line schemes. It may just take them a while to get there.
Final grade and final thoughts on the 2022 NFL Draft for the Browns
With most of their future draft capital heading to Houston after the Deshaun Watson trade, it's hard to find actual talent with where Cleveland started in the 2022 NFL Draft. But, all in all, the Browns had a fairly solid draft last weekend and was able to address some of the more glaring needs on the roster, all things considered. They're going to need some more help at receiver and will likely bring in a veteran or two to bolster their depth.
The biggest question now for Cleveland is what to do with Baker Mayfield? It was reported that the disgruntled Browns quarterback was an option for the Carolina Panthers, but, the trade never gained much traction. The nail in the coffin came soon after the Panthers took former Ole Miss gunslinger Matt Corral in the third round.
It appears, for now, that the Browns will keep Mayfield on their roster but also keep him as far away from Berea as possible. Cleveland will focus on what they have now and remain patient on a team warming up to the idea of Mayfield on the roster. Unfortunately, with the Atlanta Falcons also taking a quarterback, it appears Mayfield's prospects are limited. Maybe the Seattle Seahawks could give the Browns a ring later this offseason. But, they also seem committed to Drew Lock for now. So, it appears unlikely anyone will be riding with 6 this upcoming NFL season.
Final draft grade: B-
Final Baker Mayfield trade grade: DNC
Evan Dammarell is a sports journalist covering all things Cleveland right off the shores of Lake Erie. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Did you enjoy this edition of Right Down Euclid? You can get it in your inbox two to three times a week by subscribing here. All it takes is either your Facebook account or email address!