The Cleveland Browns had to wait a bit to make their first selection in the 2022 NFL Draft. The team’s first- and fourth-round picks went to the Houston Texans for quarterback Deshaun Watson. In an attempt to add some mid-round picks, Cleveland traded down from No. 44 to No. 68.
If Cleveland was coming off a playoff run, it might be understandable to see it go with the best available player. However, too many of the Browns’ picks seem to address positions which already had a strong group of players.
Calling the trade for Deshaun Watson a risk would be putting it nicely. His legal issues cast question on when he will suit up again, and his acquisition likely spelled the end of former No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield‘s time as the quarterback.
Testifying under oath, Deshaun Watson admits Ashley Solis cried at end of massage – ProFootballTalk https://t.co/OQ6HLYvYmY
— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) May 17, 2022
Cleveland also added three receivers as undrafted free agents. Defensive tackle and cornerback were also addressed among the players passed over in the draft.
According to the sportsbook, the Browns (+200) are tied with Baltimore and Cincinnati as favorites to win the AFC North title.
Here’s a pick-by-pick look at how the Browns drafted.
Pick 68 Martin Emerson | CB, Mississippi State Bulldogs
With Greg Newsome, one of the more impressive rookie cornerbacks a season ago, joined by Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams, cornerback doesn’t seem to be the biggest need for the Browns. Still, the 6-foot-2 Emerson will help the secondary. He isn’t afraid to get involved in stopping the run, and playing in the SEC gave him plenty of opportunities to go up against receivers with futures in the pros.
With a total of 14 pass defenses (though no interceptions) in his last two seasons at Mississippi State, it did make one question the ball skills of a player who had just one interception in 36 career games in Starkville..
Emerson ran the 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds, more than adequate for him to play in the NFL at his size.
The NFL betting lines list Emerson (+10000) as a longshot for the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
Pick 78 Alex Wright | DE, Alabama-Birmingham Blazers
Cleveland once again went the “best-available” route and, addressing a position that appears to be in pretty good shape with Chase Winovich coming in to join Myles Garrett. Garrett is on the short list of the top defensive ends in the NFL.
Wright had 20 tackles for loss and 15½ sacks in his three seasons at UAB.
The 6-foot-5, 270-pound Wright came into college at 235 pounds. He probably is not done adding the weight.
It will be interesting to see his position, but he figures to be part of a defensive end rotation across from Garrett.
Pick 99 David Bell | WR, Purdue Boilermakers
There’s no doubting Bell’s production at Purdue, as in 232 catches over three seasons for the Boilermakers.
Bell had 31 catches for 560 yards in his last three games against ranked opponents. In 10 games overall against ranked foes, Bell went over 100 receiving yards seven times.
Teams might have been scared off a bit by Bell’s time of 4.65 seconds in the 40. He was a possession receiver in college. That shouldn’t change in the NFL.
With the addition of Amari Cooper, and the big-play wideout Donovan People-Jones set for his third season, there will be plenty of single coverage for Bell at the next level.
Pick 108 Perrion Winfrey | DT, Oklahoma Sooners
Perrion Winfrey did offer plenty of pass-rush potential during his two seasons at Oklahoma. As a senior, he had 11 tackles for loss and 5½ sacks. He was timed in the 40-yard dash in 4.89 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine, Now, he’ll join a young and primarily untested group of interior defensive linemen for the Browns.
This could be the Cleveland selection that received more positive feedback from NFL draft analysts than any other, as some NFL predictions had him going a round or two earlier.
Pick 124 Cade York | K, Louisiana State Tigers
Cleveland saw rival Cincinnati use a mid-round pick on a placekicker. Evan McPherson made the Bengals look good with some huge kicks during the run to the Super Bowl.
Cleveland perhaps could’ve used help at other positions rather than taking a kicker in the fourth round. York was a very accurate kicker. He missed just six field goals over his last two seasons. It was a little troubling that he was rarely used on kickoffs, however.
Chase McLaughlin was just 4-of-10 on field goals of 40-49 yards. He was eventually released not long after the draft, so a kicker was needed by the Browns. Probably not in the fourth round, though.
Pick 156 Jerome Ford | RB, Cincinnati Bearcats
The Browns should have had the chance to see plenty of Ford’s games in his final two seasons.
Ford put it all together as a senior at Cincinnati, rushing for 1320 yards while adding 21 receptions. He also rushed for 187 yards in a win over Houston in the American Athletic Conference title game.
Having just 31 carries in eight games at Alabama, Ford spent his last two seasons for the Bearcats. He was timed in 4.46 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. Doing so at 210 pounds solidified his place as a third-day choice.
With Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt and D’Ernest Johnson on the roster, it might be difficult for Ford to earn anhy carries.
Pick 202 Michael Woods | WR, Oklahoma Sooners
Woods didn’t get thrown the ball as often as many of the receivers taken in this draft. He was one of nine Sooners with more than 10 catches during the past campaign. Woods had back-to-back 100-yard receiving games (against Florida and LSU) during the 2020 season.
The 6-foot-1, 204-pound Michael Woods had a time of 4.55 in the 40, a 10-5 broad jump and 34½-inch vertical, so he has all the physical attributes to make an impact as an outside receiver in the NFL.
Pick 223 Isaiah Thomas | DE, Oklahoma Sooners
The Browns certainly liked what they saw from the 2021 Oklahoma team. Thomas was the third Sooner taken by Cleveland.
He was a big-play performer in his final two seasons at OU, with 24½ tackles for loss, 16½ sacks and four forced fumbles.
He will give Cleveland another option in the defensive-end rotation.
Pick 246 Dawson Deaton | OL, Texas Tech Red Raiders
Deaton did start 33 games at center at Texas Tech after seeing time at guard and tackle as a freshman.
He posted a time of 5.12 in the 40-yard dash, and could offer some depth as an interior linemen.
Grading the draft
The fate of quarterback Deshaun Watson is ultimately going to grade this draft, if he avoids NFL discipline and the Browns don’t receive too much pushback for turning the offense over to a player facing multiple sexual misconduct lawsuits.
This was just the third time since 2009 that the Browns didn’t have a first-round selection.
There are questions about how much many of the draft picks will play as rookies as they’re joining crowded position groups. Good news is that Cleveland has signed the majority of its draftees.
We have signed 7 of the 9 players in our 2022 draft class
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) May 12, 2022