The Cleveland Browns are coming off a disappointing 8-9 season in which they were unable to punch their tickets to the playoffs. Frustrations with Baker Mayfield along with other drama on the team were too much to overcome and the team took a step back from their 11-5 record in 2020.
Even amid the swirling Baker Mayfield rumors, the Browns have no choice but to continue building up the talent level of the franchise. Cleveland had a unique draft as they did not possess a first-round pick and traded out of the second round. Even so, they were able to add nine new talents to the organization through the draft that they hope will make an impact. They netted several raw but enticing prospects in their draft class this year.
Cleveland Browns 2022 NFL Draft Grades
Martin Emerson- CB Mississippi State (Round 3)
Draft Grade- B-
It was somewhat surprising to see the Browns go with a corner as their first selection. The franchise recently handed Denzel Ward a large extension and spent a first-round pick on Greg Newsome last year.
Even so, Martin Emerson is an exciting addition to the defensive unit. He stands 6’2” and uses his length well in the run and pass game. His long strides help him to keep with receivers and he makes quick reads in run support.
While he needs to clean up his tackling, he is a willing defender in the run game. Emerson is most effective in press coverage. He struggles to stay with quick-twitch, shifty receivers but does a great job attacking through players’ hands and breaking up passes.
Alex Wright- DE UAB (Round 3)
Draft Grade- B
He is still extremely raw as a prospect but Alex Wright has exciting potential. He was only a three-star recruit coming out of high school but started three years at UAB. His 6’6”, 275-pound frame combined with his size and strength make for an exciting skillset.
Alex Wright is a physical, high-energy player who will make an impact right away. He has powerful hands and good lower-body strength; major assets in his game. While he needs to clean up his technique and his agility isn’t great, there is still plenty of hope for Wright to continue developing.
David Bell- WR Purdue (Round 3)
Daft Grade- A-
David Bell is a physical receiver who relies on his strong 6-foot frame to produce. He is capable of overpowering corners who put their hands on him in coverage. Bell has impressive body control and understands how to box out defenders. He also is capable of creating yards after the catch and shows bursts when running with the ball.
The Browns were in need of wide receiver help and the hope is for Bell to develop into a threat alongside Amari Cooper. The ability to utilize his size on back-shoulder throws is certainly an appeal in the offense. He will need to clean up his hand checking and a few other areas of his game, but Bell projects well overall at the next level.
Perrion Winfrey- DT Oklahoma (Round 4)
Draft Grade- C+
Standing 6’4” and weighing 290 pounds, Perrion Winfrey has an above-average burst off the snap. The best asset in his game is his availability to shoot across gaps and hunt the quarterback. He has good length for the position and improved technique could certainly help his overall game.
For the moment, Winfrey is pretty one-dimensional in his play. He is not very effective in the run game and is best as a penetrator. His lack of leg strength and effective drive allow his pursuit to be stalled.
There are plenty of indicators that Winfrey will be a positive long-term NFL player. However, he is still very raw in his development. The 21-year-old was the Number One JUCO transfer recruit in 2020 and also had offers from LSU, Alabama, and several other schools. Winfrey started both seasons at Oklahoma and was the Senior Bowl MVP this year. Expect long-term production from the big man but his learning curve in the NFL will likely be fairly steep.
Cade York- K LSU (Round 4)
Draft Grade- A
Cade York made 81.8% of his field goals and 97.6% of extra points during his three seasons at LSU. York leaves LSU ranking second in school history in points scored (326) and tied for second in field goals made (54). He also set the record for the longest field goal in Tiger stadium with the made 56-yard kick. York left LSU on a streak of 118 consecutive made extra points with his last miss occurring in 2019.
Kickers are a continually undervalued position in the NFL and the Browns hope to have their long-term solution with this selection. It is rare for a kicker to be able to leave school early and declare for the draft, but this is a positive indicator of how effective he could be.
Jerome Ford- RB Cincinnati (Round 5)
Draft Grade- B+
Jerome Ford’s game-changing speed is the biggest asset in his game. He is a threat to take it to the end zone on every carry and also has an impressive change of direction. He also has solid lower body strength that allows him to drive through opponents. He rarely stops on first contact and is willing to initiate the collision himself. Ford is fairly effective as a blocker which is a great long-term sign for his NFL career.
While Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are certain to eat up the majority of the carries, expect Jerome Ford to get some change of pace looks throughout the season. The 5’10” running back has an exciting long-term NFL outlook and further deepens the Browns running back group.
Michael Woods II- WR Oklahoma (Round 6)
Draft Grade- D+
At 6’1” and 198 pounds, Michael Woods II is a deep threat WR with strong hands. He does not jump off the charts with any intangibles but has the tape as evidence of his production. He averaged over three catches per game all three years in college. Woods spent his first two seasons at Arkansas before transferring to Oklahoma for his final season in college.
He showed impressive production in college but there are some concerns for Woods at the next level. He has a fairly basic route tree and is unable to change direction quickly. His stiff hips and below-average elusiveness are troublesome. Woods has shown continued progression in college and this needs to continue at the NFL level.
Isaiah Thomas- DE Oklahoma (Round 7)
Draft Grade- C-
The Browns clearly scouted Oklahoma heavily as this was the third player drafted from the team and second from their defensive line. Isaiah Thomas is a raw defensive player who shows positive flashes overall.
Thomas is a scattered pass rusher without a go-to move right now. He has the desired explosiveness but it is going to take him some time put the pieces together.
Dawson Deaton- C Texas Tech (Round 7)
Draft Grade: C
Standing 6’5” and weighing 306 pounds, Dawson Deaton does not have the look of a typical NFL center. He has a long-legged frame but plays with adequate strength. Deaton is fairly athletic and has a good base of footwork.
The Texas Tech product has a great deal of work to do on his body moving forward. He is not as versatile as is typically desired for an offensive line prospect. Deaton likely projects as a backup at the NFL level.