When the Cleveland Browns finally selected a player in the 2022 NFL draft, it was somewhat surprising that they selected a cornerback. While CB Martin Emerson may be a great pick as early as this year, he was added to a very deep group of players while other positions, notably receiver and defensive tackle, had bigger needs.
The Browns traded CB Troy Hill back to the Los Angeles Rams and lost M.J. Stewart in free agency which could open up playing time for Emerson. When CB Greedy Williams was downgraded on the injury report Thursday, Emerson back more likely to see the field a lot.
Whether Emerson plays good or bad, based on data from 2020 he will be targeted by offenses a ton:
NFL OCs just play: "Find the rookie CB."
8 of the top-25 CBs in PFF's coverage snaps per target were rookies last year. Mostly didn't matter if the CB was playing well or not. pic.twitter.com/K94lDMGxJQ
— Hayden Winks (@HaydenWinks) February 17, 2021
For opponents of the Browns, it is an easy calculation to make. A team would rather not throw the ball toward Denzel Ward and Greg Newsome II meaning the third corner is likely to be targeted often. While we await Williams’ final injury designation and a visit from CB Jimmy Moreland, we can assume that Emerson or A.J. Green will step into that third spot.
On Sunday, when Emerson is in the game and QB Baker Mayfield drops back to pass, keep an eye on where #23 is because the football is likely to follow.
The above data can also be used to make fantasy football decisions. If your receiver is facing the likes of Derek Stingly Jr., Sauce Gardner or Trent McDuffie, it is likely that opposing offense’s game plans will be to get the ball to the receiver they are covering.