The 2022 NFL draft was a weird one for Cleveland Browns fans. It was only the second time since the franchise reinstation and the first time since 2019 that the team did not select in the first round. It was the first time since 2028 that the team did not make a selection in the first two rounds of the draft. This lack of draft picks was obviously due to the DeShaun Watson trade. The Browns front office will have to deal with this shortage of draft capital until at least 2025. As a result, Cleveland will be missing the following: 2023 first and third and 2024 first and fourth. This will create a challenge for Andrew Berry with future cap management and roster construction. However, Cleveland finally has a franchise quarterback that some can argue is top five in the league.
As expected, Andrew Berry traded back multiple times this draft to acquire more draft capital. Both in this year and future drafts. 44 was initially Cleveland’s first pick. That pick was traded to Houston in exchange for a third (68) and two fourth-round picks (108 and 124). We saw pick number 118 moved to Minnesota in the fourth round in exchange for a fifth (156) and a fourth-round pick in 2023. Andrew Berry is always willing to move down the draft board to take more shots at players and leave the draft with future draft capital in his back pocket.
68 – Martin Emerson, CB, Mississippi State
The Cleveland Browns selected cornerback Martin Emerson from Mississippi State with their first pick. Emerson falls within the age guardrails that the front office uses because he won’t turn 22 until well into his rookie season. The selection of another corner seemed perplexing at first, but we can see a clear trend from Andrew Berry through three draft classes. He will continuously be investing in the cornerback room. And given players’ injury history like Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams, I can’t blame him for doing that. This move explains the Troy Hill trade, sending him back to the Rams in exchange for a 5th.
Emerson is a very lengthy corner, measuring in at 6’2” and 201 pounds. When he joins the Browns roster this season, he will be the biggest corner we have. Length is how Emerson won in college. Martin’s best use is in press coverage. Martin was very physical in college, but perhaps a bit too much. He’ll have to be careful transitioning to the NFL, where refs may be quicker to flag illegal contact. This selection gives the defensive coordinator the flexibility to rotate our corners around the field and keep everyone fresh.
78 – Alex Wright, Edge, University of Alabama – Birmingham
Despite this being one of the oldest draft classes in recent history, the Browns’ front office has been able to stick to the age guardrails through two picks. The concept behind the age guardrails is that the Browns can get players in the building while still developing and coaching them the right way. Alex Wright is another player who has just begun to peak in his development cycle.
There is a big hole in this defensive line opposite Myles that we hope Alex Wright can fill. Wright played for three years in college and has shown progress every year. He is similar to Myles Garrett in height and weight, which is ideal because Myles will mentor him as he develops in his early career.
99- David Bell, WR, Purdue
With the 99th pick, the Cleveland Browns finally addressed the offensive side of the ball. David Bell is a wide receiver from Purdue who falls with the age guardrails for the front office. Unfortunately, a prolific producer in college fell short during the athletic testing portion of the pre-draft process. Bell is a natural catcher and wins well downfield with leverage. However, he won’t be blowing anyone away with his speed. He will easily slide into the Jarvis Landry role in this offense, and we will see him on the field from day one in three-wide receiver sets.
108 – Perrion Winfrey, DL, Oklahoma
Perrion Winfrey was selected in the fourth round to bring some much-needed depth to the defensive line position. This is the one area of the roster lacking in both talent and bodies. Winfrey profiles best as a three-tech at the next level who will be tasked with getting after the quarterback. His weakness is in stopping the run game, and for year one, at least, we may see him as a sub-package type player who is brought on in obvious passing downs. Winfrey wins best with his excellent athleticism; the rest of the game can be taught to him throughout his rookie season.
124 – Cade York, K, LSU
This draft class was surprising because we saw many special teams players going early on day three. A handful of kickers and punters were selected in the early to mid-fourth round. York excelled as a kicker in college and landed one of the highest PFF scores in the nation at the position. He was perfect on extra points the past season, and his only misses for field goals came from 40-yards or longer. But even from that range, he was 8 for 12. Cleveland is a tough city to kick in, and the rookie kicker will have his work cut out for him.
156 – Jerome Ford, RB, Cincinnati
Jerome Ford was the lone pick of the fifth round for the Cleveland Browns out of Cincinnati. Ford will provide a nice depth piece. However, he is the first to buck the age guardrails in this draft. It was bound to happen with this class in particular and may spell trouble for Ford with his future on this team. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are the undisputed one-two punch for this offense, but salary cap issues could change things. With a lack of dead cap, we may see one or both of Kareem Hunt/D’Ernest Johnson moving on from the team before the start of the year. Either transaction would be a cap savings of $6.25 and $2.43 million, respectively.
202 – Michael Woods, WR, Oklahoma
Woods was a sixth-round selection as a depth wide receiver. Before transferring to Oklahoma, he played for Spencer Rattler/Caleb Williams. Throughout his career, Woods amassed 1,711 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. If Woods has a good training camp this summer, he can push Anthony Schwartz for playing time this season.
223 – Isaiah Thomas, Edge, Oklahoma
Isaiah Thomas is another player who bucks the Andrew Berry draft picks trend. He will be turning 24 by the time his rookie season starts but can provide some much-needed depth on the defensive line. Thomas had a breakout season for this Sooner defense in 2020 but decided to return to school for his senior season in 2021. Following some off-the-field issues early in the year, he struggled to produce the production he showcased his junior year. The hope is he can reclaim that breakout season once in the NFL and provide a nice rotational piece along the defensive front.
246 – Dawson Deaton, C, Texas Tech
With the final selection of the 2022 NFL draft, the Cleveland Browns selected Dawson Deaton. Deaton will compete with 2022 UDFA Brock Hoffman for the backup center role behind newly promoted starter Nick Harris. Deaton was a three-time all Big-12 player at Texas Tech but is undersized for the position. Thankfully he can serve as a backup this season and take the time to bulk up and develop. It also helps that Cleveland has the best offensive line coach in the league in Bill Callahan.