The 2022 NFL Draft is in the books and after the three-day extravaganza, the Browns have added nine players (not including any of the signed undrafted free agents) to the roster. In the case of the Browns, without a first-round pick due to the Deshaun Watson deal, General Manager Andrew Berry’s goal throughout the weekend was to add depth to the roster. Berry did not have to find immediate impact players in this draft. His goal was to find depth and rotational pieces that can be a part of the future of the Dawg Pound post 2022.
In the second-round, Berry traded the No. 44 pick to the Houston Texans for picks 68, 108 and 124. With the No. 68 pick, Berry selected Martin Emerson, a 6’2 corner from Mississippi State. Later on in the draft, the Browns sent DB Troy Hill back to his old stomping grounds in Los Angeles, allowing Emerson to be slotted in as either the team’s No. 3 or 4 corner in 2022, depending on the health of 2019 second-round pick Greedy Williams. Emerson’s strength is press coverage, a perfect fit for defensive coordinator’s Joe Woods’ scheme. As I wrote in my Five Options for the Cleveland Browns at 44 article, even with the extension of Denzel Ward and the investment of Greg Newsome, you can never have enough corners in the NFL. The Browns defensive back room gains strength with the addition of Emerson.
At pick 99, the Browns went with offense, selecting wide receiver David Bell out of Purdue. The knock on Bell coming out of school was his speed, as he ran the second-slowest 40 time of all the wide receivers at the 2022 combine, but from what I saw on tape, Bell can catch everything, and that’s the only thing that matters to me. With pick 202 in the sixth-round, another wide receiver welcomed themselves to The Land in Michael Woods II out of Oklahoma.
If Bell works out, he is more than likely going to be the slot receiver in 2022 with Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones on the outside, with Anthony Schwartz and Ja’Marcus Bradley sprinkled in. I’m a little less high on Cooper than most Browns observers and media members. I consider the former Cowboy and Raider a No. 2 rather than a for-sure, go-to No. 1 WR. He often disappears on the road. Go look at his home and road splits throughout his career. They’re jarring, and it’s not like he’s played with bad quarterbacks. Dak Prescott is a Top 13 quarterback, and you could make the argument Derek Carr is a Top 10 signal caller. The Browns are hoping Watson can unlock his true No. 1 potential for a full 17-game slate.
Adding to the defensive front, Berry nabbed Alex Wright, a defensive end out of UAB with the 78th pick. Then, he turned around and snatched Perrion Winfrey, a defensive tackle out of Oklahoma with the third selection of Round 4. At 6’4, 290, Winfrey was seen as a second-round pick if it wasn’t for some injuries, and Wright is considered a developmental defensive end with great upside. With the uncertainty of Jadeveon Clowney’s future in the CLE, the Browns provided themselves with some much-needed defensive line depth for both now, and in the future with those two choices. They went back to the trenches and selected an offensive lineman, Center Dawson Deaton out of Texas Tech with their last pick in the draft (No. 246 in the seventh-round).
It’s possible the team’s biggest weakness besides quarterback entering the offseason was kicker, and the Browns may have found the next Phil Dawson with Cade York out of LSU. The kid made a 57-yard kick in the fog at the buzzer for LSU against Florida in 2020. Taking him in the fourth-round was not a risk at all the way I see it. You don’t know you need a kicker until you don’t have one.
For a lot of mid-round selections, I felt Berry did the best he could in the 2022 draft. When the Browns moved back at No. 44 24 spots to No. 68, I was hesitant, but the three guys Berry drafted for the picks he received (Emerson, Winfrey and York) justify the move. The only position the Browns did not address was linebacker, but there’s still time to do so post draft, just like there’s still time to move soon-to-be former Browns QB Baker Mayfield.
The draft, combined with free agency, is just the start of the offseason in the NFL. There’s still over four months until the Browns and every other team in the league take the gridiron for the first game of the 2022 season.
For now, the Browns roster looks to be in good shape, and it was only aided (we think) by the 2022 draft. As always, we won’t know if any of these kids will hit until a few years down the road.