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Cleveland Browns Comprehensive NFL Draft Review: Alex Wright, DE UAB

The Cleveland Browns used their second of three third-round picks on Alex Wright, defensive end out of UAB. Using historical data and the film, projecting his future and the role he will play for the Browns.

With the 78th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns selected defensive end Alex Wright out of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Wright is the second player Browns general manager Andrew Berry has selected out of Conference USA, joining Harrison Bryant, who was selected in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft out of Florida Atlantic.

Wright was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman team in 2019, then was selected second team all conference in his final season, leading the Blazers in sacks and tackles for loss, forcing a pair of fumbles.

Athletic Profile

Age: 21 (Born September 5th, 2000)

Height: 6'5 1/8"

Weight: 271 lbs

Arm Length: 34"

40-yard dash: DNP

Broad Jump: 114" (Pro Day)

Vertical Jump: 29" (Pro Day)

3-cone: 7.42 (Pro Day)

Shuttle: 4.47 (Pro Day)

Bench Press: 15 reps

Unfortunately, Wright was hurt during the combine and didn't get to test the 40 at his Pro Day, which can limit what can be gleaned from his athletic testing. That said, neither his explosion nor agility are terribly impressive. They don't look problematic, but they don't stand out as major assets.

The Browns are banking heavily that his age is indication that his athleticism will only improve in time. His size, strength and overall length are his best assets.

Production

2021 (Best Season)

Solo Tackles: 23 (5.2%)

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Tackles for Loss: 8.5 (10.7%)

Sacks: 6 (18.7%)

This is where things start to get concerning with Wright. The Browns like his future better than his past, but Wright was not particularly productive in college even in his best season. He had a promising start to his career as a 235 pound freshman. Getting up to 260 as a sophomore proved to be a difficult adjustment before rebounding with a promising junior year. Had he stayed in college another year, he might have put together a dominant season in terms of production.

Wright's an aspirational selection that can be a rotational base, but might become more with time and further development. He does have limited experience on the interior, 52 snaps in three seasons per Pro Football Focus. Unless the Browns deal with injuries, Taven Bryan and fellow rookie Perrion Winfrey should be able to handle those interior pass rush duties at least for the upcoming season.

Early on, Wright looks like he might be able to provide some reps on run downs, even if it's only a handful, to give players like Myles Garrett a breather, saving them for pass rush opportunities.

So much of Wright's first year is just mastering his body. Wright still has room to grow with his frame, but if he's not gaining significant weight as he has the past three seasons, it should help him improve his body control and flexibility. That should pay dividends as he looks smooth out some of the rougher edges in his game.

The Browns will let Wright work out his inconsistencies and awkwardness out on the practice field before letting him loose in games, so unless he makes dramatic improvements, it wouldn't be a surprise if he were limited in his role and even inactive for games this season.

The Browns should offer an environment where they can offer him all the reps he could ask for in training camp and in-season practices which could accelerate his development. There's no sense in wearing down Myles Garrett and the same approach will likely be taken with whichever starting end they have across from him, whether it's Jadeveon Clowney or another veteran.

Perhaps a  complete athletic profile might have improved his projection, but based entirely on the information available, he projects as a backup and role player. The Browns may love his traits and believe he will beat the odds as he at least met the thresholds for a long term starter and even a Pro Bowl player., but it could prove difficult to achieve.

The Rest of the 2022 Draft Class

Martin Emerson, CB Mississippi State

David Bell, WR Purdue

Perrion Winfrey, DT Oklahoma

Jerome Ford, RB Cincinnati

Michael Woods II, WR Oklahoma

Isaiah Thomas, DE Oklahoma

Dawson Deaton, C Texas Tech