The Cleveland Browns made nine selections in the 2022 NFL Draft, but some of the excitement of draft weekend was tempered due to the lack of a pick in the first round and general manager Andrew Berry trading out of the second round.
The Browns finally went on the clock in the third round with the selection of cornerback Martin Emerson Jr. with the No. 68 overall pick and wound their way until the seventh round, when they selected center Dawson Deaton with the No. 246 overall pick.
With the 2022 season now in the books, various media have started to hand out grades to the rookie classes, and on Wednesday NFL.com’s Nick Shook dropped a “C+” next to Cleveland’s name in his grade book.
Kenny Pickett's future is bright in Pittsburgh. Who else stood out among the first-year pros in the AFC North in 2022? @TheNickShook provides grades for each rookie class in the divisionhttps://t.co/sPvnG5DVA4 pic.twitter.com/yBPgiPspek— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) February 15, 2023
A few highlights from Shook’s assessment of the draft class include:
Emerson quietly compiled a quality season for a rookie corner. He was consistently effective in tough matchups, blanketing Steelers rookie George Pickens one-on-one and effectively eliminating Buccaneers star Mike Evans in Week 12. Other rookie corners received more attention, but Emerson was right behind them in terms of performance; he gives the Browns another trusty option among their talented corners.
(Kicker Cade) York had an up-and-down year, converting 75 percent of field-goal attempts and notably missing two extra-point tries (including one that led to a 1-point Browns loss in Week 2), but he started to settle in late in the season.
(Defensive end) Alex Wright played more often than most likely expected and made a minor impact that was more noticeable on tape than the stat sheet, but he still has plenty of room to improve.
Overall, Shook presented a pretty fair look at Cleveland’s rookie class, especially regarding Emerson, who finished the season as Pro Football Focus’ No. 23 cornerback, out of 118 eligible players, and the highest-ranked cornerback on the Browns.
York had his struggles, which have been well documented, but it can also take kickers time to acclimate themselves and there is every reason to believe York will be more consistent this fall.
As for everyone else, Wright, wide receiver David Bell, defensive tackle Perrion Winfrey and wide receiver Michael Woods all received playing time as rookies that, if nothing else, should give them a baseline to work from during the offseason and in training camp.
Still, without a first-round pick again this year and in 2024 thanks to the trade for quarterback Deshaun Watson, Berry needs to up his game these next two drafts to find more players like Emerson for the Browns to maximize what should be a competitive window now that they have the quarterback situation settled for the foreseeable future.
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