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The NFL Draft is now over, the storm of speculation has quelled (for now). 262 college players were drafted and now have homes, while many more are in the process of finding theirs after not hearing their name called on that big stage in Las Vegas.
Of those 262 picks, nine of them belonged to the Cleveland Browns. Despite fans experiencing longer wait times from trading back, groaning after not seeing Ohio State players be announced to Cleveland and other feelings of that nature, general manager Andrew Berry still was able to produce a more than solid draft.
So as Mr. Berry continues to piece together the roster of 2022-23 Cleveland Browns, it’s only fitting to look back on this past weekend and see where Cleveland hit and missed in the draft.
Round 3, Pick 68: Martin Emerson, CB, Mississippi State
Cleveland started the draft by trading their second-round pick for a third-round pick and two fourth-round picks. This alone drew agitation from fans, with their actual pick only escalating it. Emerson is a big bodied cornerback who plays physically. What good would that do in Cleveland with Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome II, Troy Hill, A.J. Green and Greedy Williams?
The next day Hill was traded, opening up the nickel corner spot.
Emerson is someone who can post that role but it’s likely he plays a role similar to M.J. Stewart, who departed this off-season. If he can develop a bit of a mean streak, this guy could prove some scouts wrong. Grade: B-
Round 3, Pick 78: Alex Wright, DE, UAB
While fans were split on the selection of Wright, unaffiliated team scouting pages glowed about him. A raw talent, he will still need to develop a bit, but playing behind Myles Garrett and possibly another veteran signing, he should grow into an impact player. He’s 21 years old, he’s still growing into his body and all he needs is some seasoning. Grade: B+
Round 3, Pick 99: David Bell, WR, Purdue
Everyone brings up Bell’s slow 40-yard dash time, however, the measurables don’t tell the whole story on a prospect. His route running, ability to release, elusiveness and of course his hands made him an easy choice at this pick. There’s comparisons to names like former Cleveland wide receiver Jarvis Landry and Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Zay Jones, which is the type of talent Cleveland needs, especially with new quarterback, Deshaun Watson. Grade: B+/A-
Round 4, Pick 108: Perrion Winfrey, DT, Oklahoma
The fact that Winfrey was still available in the fourth-round is reminiscent of last year when Cleveland took linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. He shouldn’t have been there, he was seen as a second or third-round pick but he was there and Cleveland took advantage, again. A tackle for a loss machine and a more than capable pass rusher, Winfrey should fit into Cleveland’s defensive line really well. Grade: A
Round 4, Pick 124: Cade York, Kicker, LSU
The Browns haven’t had a consistent kicker since Phil Dawson left in 2012. It’s definitely understandable, they would not only take a kicker but also take one early (see the Cincinnati Bengals last year with Evan McPherson). The numbers between both are similar and they both kicked in windy areas in college. They also kicked in high pressure scenarios while attending their respective schools.
The real question will be how will York ultimately adapt to an even windier city, where you’re more likely to get snow instead of rain. The rookie can be cool under pressure but can he do it in the Cleveland climate? Grade: B+
Round 5, Pick 156: Jerome Ford, HB, Cincinnati
Ford is in an odd situation; he was drafted in the fifth-round to a team that has three running backs who could start in many other organizations. The questions that come to mind are where does he fit and what’s the plan for him?
There’s some thought that Cleveland could trade Kareem Hunt although it seems unlikely at this juncture. For now, they could be storing Ford for a year or two down the line, knowing he can produce and using him after Hunt or D’Ernest Johnson’s contracts are done. Grade: C+
Round 6, Pick 202: Michael Woods II, WR, Oklahoma
Woods showed some potential at Arkansas, then he transferred to Oklahoma and struggled a bit. He ran basic routes but had the ability to work back for a scrambling quarterback. Realistically, Woods’ floor is a special teams player with his ceiling being a developmental guy. Grade: C
Round 7, Pick 223: Isaiah Thomas, DE, Oklahoma
Thomas is a developmental talent with traits that could see him become a starter down the road. Comparisons to edge rushers like the Kansas City Chiefs’ Alex Okafor and Philadelphia Eagles’ Josh Sweat signals that he may not be a game changer or even anything beyond a reliable hand, but there may be something here based on his explosiveness. Grade: B
Round 7, Pick 246: Dawson Deaton, Center, Texas Tech
Seen to scouts as a priority undrafted free agent, if not seventh-round pick, Deaton appears more to be a camp body who could contend to be a practice squad player. Despite having the ability to adjust and the ability to maintain his base, his body just isn’t NFL ready. Add to that, most feel he can only play one position (rather than the either guard position like young centers are known to do) and it’s going to be an uphill battle.
Any other round, this would be a head scratcher. However, this is the type of pick that’s more than okay in the final round of the draft. It’s a one-dollar lottery ticket of sorts, you spend it just to play but don’t expect to hit anything big. Grade: C
Since it’s conclusion, the draft has seen a divide in opinions. A portion of fans have panned this draft because Berry passed on players they had wanted in favor of players they traded down to get. Analysts meanwhile have praised the team for not only getting creative with no first-round pick but for selecting players that are seen as steals.
Overall, the analysts seem a bit more in the right here. Cleveland was able to add potential key pieces that can have an immediate impact (Bell, Winfrey, York) as well as pieces who may contribute but play a bigger role down the line (Emerson, Ford, Thomas). With all the changes being made to the team, it’s easy to overlook how well Berry has drafted over the last couple years, but like in Battleship, this year was a hit.
Final Grade: B