Skip to main content

Cleveland Browns Comprehensive NFL Draft Review: Martin Emerson Jr., CB Mississippi State

The Cleveland Browns selected Martin Emerson Jr. with the 68th pick of the NFL Draft. Looking at the tape and the historical, how does Emerson project in the NFL?

The Cleveland Browns entered the 2022 NFL Draft with the 44th pick in the second round, but made agreed to a trade with the Houston Texans. In the deal, the Browns received 68th pick in the third round as well as 108th pick and 124th pick in the fourth round. With the first selection of this year's draft, the Browns selected Martin 'M.J.' Emerson, a corner out of Mississippi State.

Emerson has been a consistently solid corner who is aggressive playing the run, earning himself an All-SEC 2nd team from Por Football as a sophomore and All-SEC 3rd team from them as a junior.

Athletic Profile

Age: 21 (Born September 27th, 2000)

Height: 6'1 5/8"

Weight: 201 lbs

Arm Length: 33 1/2"

40-yard dash: 4.53 (4.51 at Pro Day)

Broad Jump: 124" (Pro Day)

Vertical Jump: 32" (Pro Day)

3-cone: 6.90 (Pro Day)

Shuttle: 4.14 (Pro Day)

Bench Press: 17 reps (Pro Day)

Emerson's length immediately stands out. He's tall and has long arms for the position. His straight line speed and explosion is relatively ordinary, his speed at his size is solid but what really stands out is how he performed in his agility testing.

Given what he shows on the field, the 3-cone and shuttle might have been a surprise. The bench press is notable only as it shows his dedication to the weight room. All of these components combined at his age may portend good things in the future, but his athleticism isn't what's going to make him successful in the NFL.

Emerson can potentially play every single position in the Browns secondary. He's played boundary corner, almost exclusively on the defense's left, but he often plays the position like a safety and his best fit in the NFL might be as a slot defender.

Scroll to Continue

Read More

As long as he stays on top of the receiver in Cover-3, he can play downhill and disrupt  the ball or make tackles. The question is how he will perform against receivers with more raw strength and quickness. At worst, he should be a serviceable option on the outside, but if he can properly adjust, he could be long term option there.

Given that Denzel Ward just signed a five-year extension and Greg Newsome was selected in the first round last year. They still have Greedy Williams for one more year as well, so Emerson may be depth on the boundary, but his quickest path to getting on the field could come on the inside.

However, given his unique body type in the Browns secondary, he could have some choice roles on the outside. As the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers have Tee Higgins and Chase Claypool at receiver respectively, Emerson could be part of a plan to mitigate the size and strength advantage those receivers have. It may not happen as a rookie, but defenses like to collect different body types in the secondary to give themselves options to defend opponents.

Emerson has virtually no experience in the slot, but he has tools that suggest he could make an effective transition, whether as the nickel or dime, potentially operating in a similar role to the one M.J. Stewart had for the Browns the last two seasons. Stewart was a press corner on the boundary at North Carolina before making the move to the inside, finding success with the Browns.

First, Emerson's broad build is once again beneficial as it can force smaller receivers to go around him and make it easier to jam opponents off the line of scrimmage, disrupting the timing of the play. He would have more help behind him, which could mitigate some of the issues with receivers wanting to attack vertically, allowing him to be more aggressive.

Emerson did test well with his agility and some technical improvements with his footwork could help him show it more consistently on the field. If Emerson's prowess against the run translates to the NFL as it should, he puts pressure on opponents, because he's a threat to knife inside and stop a run play before it starts. With so many teams running three receiver sets out of 11 personnel, having a player in the slot that can blitz is also valuable, which could be another area Emerson could contribute.

Emerson is going to be cross trained on the inside and outside at corner, something the Browns like to do. It will be interesting to see if he gets some small bites at safety, even if it's just dropping to the deep half from the slot. If his discipline in refusing to allow receivers to get behind him in college is any indication, he might be pretty good at it.

Based on his draft profile, Emerson may never make a Pro Bowl, but he has a chance to be a productive starter in a loaded Browns secondary, as the third corner with Ward and Newsome.

The Rest of the 2022 Draft Class

Alex Wright, DE UAB

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