Many things in sports media are either information or thought experiments. Mock drafts, for example, are just thought experiments about what could happen based on a set of other variables occurring. The one we completed Tuesday for the Cleveland Browns included variables related to free agency as well.
The NFL draft has not only become big business but it is the lifeblood of teams. The final four teams in the NFL playoffs all built their rosters in the draft. Its importance of it has led to the proliferation of mock drafts, draft-based websites and hundreds of analysts trying to understand prospects.
It has also spawned an interesting dynamic of looking backward with a redraft of previous drafts. Almost a past-looking mock draft.
Generally, draft picks are fairly analyzed after three to four seasons. Learning the speed of the NFL, getting a chance to play after proving to be better than veterans and basic physical development occur during that time.
ESPN went a little aggressive in redrafting. In an insider piece (subscriber, $), the 2022 NFL draft was redrafted even before the Super Bowl was completed for some of the rookies. ESPN only looked at the first two rounds but the result for the Browns was quite interesting:
44. Cleveland Browns
Original pick: John Metchie III, WR (HOU traded up)
New pick: Martin Emerson Jr., CB
Emerson had a terrific rookie season for the Browns, winning a starting job out of camp opposite Denzel Ward. Cleveland would be happy to grab him again here, a round earlier. Emerson’s size and range allowed him to hang with some of the top wideouts in the league. With Ward, Emerson and 2021 first-round pick Greg Newsome, Cleveland would boast a foundational cornerback trio that is young, versatile and prolific. — Jake Trotter
Even the wording of Trotter’s post is interesting “would boast a foundational...” when the team does boast those three cornerbacks. The only difference is that, in this fictional draft, GM Andrew Berry didn’t get to trade down and still get Emerson in the third round.
Emerson played well as a rookie with his physical traits and size helping him look like he belonged. No other Cleveland rookie was selected in the redraft.
While the redraft is just a thought experiment, it is interesting to see how one season in the league changes the perception of players. Top overall selection Travon Walker, for example, was redrafted with the 15th pick while Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy was selected fourth overall in ESPN’s piece.