The 2022 NFL draft lacked a lot of excitement for the Cleveland Browns. Instead of drafting with the thirteenth pick in the first round, the team traded that pick, among many others, for QB Deshaun Watson. Instead of wondering which wide receiver or defensive lineman would join a team a year removed from the playoffs, fans were left waiting for Watson’s discipline to finalize.
Then, during the draft, GM Andrew Berry traded down from their second-round selection to add more picks later in the draft, denying fans even more.
Finally, Berry and the Browns got active in the third round with three selections. CB Martin Emerson, DE Alex Wright and WR David Bell added to positions where Cleveland had immediate and long-term needs.
Of the three, Wright was seen as the one with the highest upside but needing the most development coming from lesser competition at UAB. With preseason in the books, Wright is now listed as one of 10 steals in this year’s draft:
Wright already showed throughout preseason that he’s capable of handling a higher level of competition after playing at UAB. Physically, the rookie edge-defender is still developing a plan of attack, particularly as a pass-rusher. But he’s consistently worked his hands when getting after opposing quarterbacks and showed the ability to stack and shed to set the edge. His preseason flashes portend an individual capable of taking over a series.
With Myles Garrett, Jadeveon Clowney and Chase Winovich ahead of him on the depth chart, and fellow rookie Isaiah Thomas competing with him, Wright will still get a chance to grow into a bigger role. In 2022, Wright’s quick adaption to the NFL will allow the Browns to rotate their ends more often and keep them fresher without as much of a drop-off as they had last year.
When the offseason started, defensive end was seen as a need position. At that time, it was Garrett and a lot of question marks. With Clowney returning, the addition of Winovich and draft picks Wright and Thomas looking good in preseason, defensive end is now a position of strength and depth for the team.