With the Cleveland Browns not making their first selection in the 2022 draft until the third round, it’s safe to say expectations aren’t too high for this year’s draft class.
Many of the Browns’ rookies should expect to sit, listen and learn this year with the hopes of becoming impactful players in the coming seasons.
The only rookie expected to start this year is kicker Cade York, who was drafted specifically with the hopes of fixing the Browns’ kicker woes.
— Ashley Bastock (@AshleyBastock42) June 8, 2022
But even with tempered expectations for the rest of the draft class, there is another rookie who could have a surprising impact this year.
Martin Emerson Jr.
The team’s first selection in the third round was cornerback Martin Emerson Jr.
Emerson was drafted for his big frame and ability to be physical with ball handlers.
#Browns defensive coordinator Joe Woods said CB Martin Emerson Jr. is a big guy, and the type of technique we ask our guys to play, he's tailor-made for that
— Nate Ulrich (@ByNateUlrich) June 1, 2022
The biggest knocks on him, and why he probably fell to the third round, is that he is slower for a cornerback and has a hard time containing faster, more athletic receivers.
But even with everything stacked against him, there are a few ways Emerson could make some surprising contributions to the Browns this season.
Starting sooner than later
With the departure slot corner, Troy Hill, there has been speculation on who will take his place.
He has been playing a lot of snaps in the slot at training camp this summer and has stated he would look forward to playing the position.
#Browns Greg Newsome II said its fun playing in the slot.
"Playing in the slot you got more help and you're around the ball more…there's some things I'm really looking forward to."
— Camryn Justice (@camijustice) May 25, 2022
If the Browns decide to play Newsome at the slot more this season, it leaves the question of who will play outside with Ward.
The easy answer might be Greedy Williams.
#Browns DC Joe Woods said cornerback Greedy Williams will definitely have a role, even with third-round pick Martin Emerson Jr. entering the mix
— Nate Ulrich (@ByNateUlrich) June 1, 2022
But he has faced a number of injuries in his three-year career and the team is still waiting for Greedy to have a break-out season.
A.J. Green could also have a chance to start, but has so far only proved to be a reliable depth piece.
With the question of who will start on the outside unanswered as of now, Emerson could have a fair shot to prove he is the guy.
He could have a big camp, get a better hold on containing faster receivers and find himself starting for the Browns at some point this season.
Playing snaps at safety
With Emerson’s big frame and physicality, it would make sense to line him up at safety a few times this season.
#Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said cornerback Martin Emerson Jr. put one our coaches on his butt in the first drill
— Nate Ulrich (@ByNateUlrich) May 13, 2022
Joe Woods likes to get creative with how he positions the Brown’s different safeties, sometimes even lining up three or four on the field at a time.
Emerson would be a great fit for that scheme, maybe even adding a new versatility to the coverage.
A lot of it will depend on how second-year safety, Richard LeCounte III, is coming along.
If LeCounte can’t take a big step in his sophomore year, Emerson could find himself lining up in the box and backfield a lot this season.
Stepping up during injuries
Despite having one of the best secondaries in the league, one negative that has been a constant for the Browns’ defensive backs is injuries.
Ward and Greedy have fought injuries incessantly since joining the league, and Newsome was kept off the field a bit during his rookie campaign as well.
This season, sadly, will likely not be much different.
One, if not more, of the team’s key defensive backs will likely be kept off the field for a few weeks and another player will need to step up.
Emerson could be that guy.
He could find his time to shine during an injury to another corner, getting a chance to show off his talent and making a valuable impact this season.
The Browns are always plagued by injuries in the secondary and will need a guy like Emerson to step up.