As the 2022 NFL draft began, Cleveland Browns fans were hoping for the chance to upgrade their team in the second round with players like George Pickens and Perrion Winfrey among those on the wish list. Instead, GM Andrew Berry traded down out of the second round (he would do so again in 2023) and selected CB Martin Emerson with the team’s first selection.
Winfrey would be considered a “steal” in the fourth round but had a bumpy rookie season.
Emerson, on the other hand, had a very good first year in the NFL despite being lightly discussed before the draft and having to wait until the third round to be selected. The Mississippi State Bulldogs cornerback played in all 17 games with six starts credited to him. While he didn’t have an interception, Emerson broke up 15 passes, tied for most on the team with Denzel Ward.
Outside of the counting stats, Emerson forced a high rate of incompletions and a low amount of yards per target compared to the rest of the NFL:
Obviously, Sauce Gardner had an amazing rookie season but Emerson’s place in the top five of yards per target and top six in forced incompletion rate deserves a ton of attention.
Pro Football Focus graded Emerson at 72.5 overall (30th-best corner in the NFL) and as the 22nd-best coverage corner in the league.
With only a one-year sample size, we can’t call Emerson an NFL draft steal yet but he is on the right track.