After they stayed quiet for Round 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Browns were plenty busy inside CrossCountry Mortgage Campus for Day 2.
Cleveland drafted three players and added an additional pick for Day 3 on Saturday after they opened the day with a trade. The Browns traded back from 44th overall to 68th overall, where they drafted their first player in CB Martin Emerson from Mississippi State. 10 picks later, they bolstered their defensive line with DE Alex Wright and closed the night on a rather loud note with WR David Bell, a First Team All-American wideout from Purdue.
Executive Vice President and GM Andrew Berry said the Browns had similar high draft grades on several of the prospects available on Day 2. That's why they initially traded back to add more draft capital for Day 3 and felt good about which prospects would be available to them in the third round.
"That decision was made because we did feel like we had a number of players who were graded similarly," Berry said. "I would say that even in this draft class, we did feel like the sweet spot was more mid-to-late second day and in the middle rounds. It is really just how the board felt at some of the different spots that we were targeting."
Check out photos of Browns 2022 third round pick Martin Emerson.
Not many expected the Browns to go after a cornerback with their first draft pick, but they were attracted to the traits of Emerson and the idea of solidifying an already-strong cornerback position with more depth. He was a three-year starter at Mississippi State and was one of the tallest cornerbacks of the draft class at 6-foot-2 and 200-pounds. He constantly battled against the best receivers in the SEC — which included guys like Ja'Marr Chase, Jameson Williams, Devonte Smith and more — and has the tools to become a quality coverage player over his time in Cleveland.
Sure, the room is crowded with other top players in Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome II, Troy Hill and Greedy Williams, but injuries always seem to loom at that position. Now, the Browns have one of the deepest cornerback rooms in the AFC North, if not the whole league, and have the tools to last at the position throughout the grinds of a season.
"We love his length, his size and his ability to press," VP of Player Personnel Glenn Cook said. "Like I said, it will give us a ton of multiplicity and versatility on that side of the football so we are excited."
"But yes," head coach Kevin Stefanski, sitting to Cook's left, said, "you can never have enough corners."
The last two picks addressed positions that were considered top needs heading into the draft.
Wright is a big edge rusher who was considered to be one of the more underrated players available at the position. At 6-foot-5 and 271 pounds, Wright has the strength to push his way through blockers and can become a valuable piece of the defensive end rotation his rookie season. Further technique refinements could make him a starter.
"We do not expect him to come in and be perfect right away," Cook said. "What we do love about him is he is big, he is long and he is physical. He will definitely come in and contribute in the run game right away. Then we can kick him inside. He did not get a ton of opportunities to do that at UAB, but we see some of that ability in him, and that will help us out on third down."
The last pick will perhaps draw the most attention from the Browns on Day 2.
Bell was one of the top receivers available for the day, and the Browns were able to grab him at No. 99. Bell topped 1,000 yards twice in three seasons at Purdue and went from Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2019, to First Team All-Big Ten in 2020, to First Team All-American in 2021.
Bell's draft stock slipped after he clocked a below-average 4.65 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the Combine, but everything else about his game is polished and ripe for the NFL level. Berry specifically called out Bell's reliable hands — he had only 11 drops mixed with 232 receptions in college — and smooth route-running as the traits that were most appealing for the Browns.
The Browns could possibly look to use Bell as a high-volume player as a rookie to pair with top veteran Amari Cooper, whom Bell said was one of the players he's studied most. Bell is capable of playing in the slot and outside and will be worth watching closely through offseason workouts.
"We thought he had some of the best hands in this draft class," Berry said. "He is also very savvy as a route runner, just very nuanced and polished and has the ability to separate. We think he's a guy who can really play both outside and inside, but we think that he can really make a living with his size, his savvy and his hands in the slot."
The Browns will draft twice as many players on Day 3. They have six picks, including three in the fourth round, and will be back on the board again early in Round 4 with the third pick of the day at 108th overall. They also have picks at 119, 124, 202, 223 and 246.