Martin Emerson Jr. is set to impact the 2022 Cleveland Browns significantly. Let’s look at his rookie profile to learn why.
Martin Emerson Jr hit the NFL scene in the Browns’ preseason opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars in their 24-13 win. According to PFF, Martin Emerson had the best defensive performance on the team, with a 93.1 overall and a 93.0 coverage grade. Both these grades are elite, and the highlight of his performance was a 75-yard pick-six touchdown return right at the end of the first half. So what do we need to know about the Browns’ new cornerback, who they drafted with the 68th pick in the third round of the 2022 Draft?
Martin Emerson went to Pine Forest High School in Pensacola, Florida. He was originally a wide receiver but swapped to cornerback for the first time in his Junior year. He helped his school reach the quarter-finals of the Florida High School Athletic Association SA Region. In his Senior year, he recorded 91 tackles, two tackles for loss, four pass breakups, one interception, one fumble recovery, and two fumble returns. He was considered a three-star recruit and had offers from Miami, Ole Miss, Oregon, and Mississippi State.
As a Freshman, Martin Emerson started five games but appeared in all 13 and totaled 32 tackles, one and a half tackles for loss, and one interception. In 2020 as a Sophomore, he started all 11 games and led the Bulldogs with 11 pass breakups: an SEC high, 72 tackles, and one and a half tackles for loss. Pro Football Focus rated Emerson the seventh-best cornerback in coverage. In 2021 Emerson played in all 12 games and totaled 50 tackles, three tackles for loss, and three pass breakups.
Going into the 2022 Draft, Martin Emerson was judged to be a third-fourth round pick, and Nfl Draft Buzz had him ranked 74. He finished his college career with 28 starts in 36 games, 154 tackles, six tackles for loss, 16 pass breakups, one interception, and one forced fumble. He had an 89.6 coverage grade, the highest by an SEC cornerback since 2020, and was ranked 11th in forced incompletions with 11 in total amongst all Power 5 cornerbacks.
Emerson has the perfect natural traits for a starting cornerback in the NFL. He’s 6.2 and weighs 201 pounds with arms 33.5 inches and hands 10 1/8 inches. His arms are massive, nearly three feet long, and he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.53. Draft analysts wrote many positive comments about Martin Emerson, who the Browns selected in the third round with pick 68. Lance Zierlein said he could compete all over the field and was good in press-man coverage and that he used his length and positioning well for catch disruptions. He has good balance, opens his hips nicely, has a good football IQ, and can consistently diagnose scripted plays. He’s versatile and can play Safety because of his range and tackling ability. As we saw against the Jaguars, he’s tough and scrappy, and the Browns fans can look forward to his development this coming season.
Going into the draft, the main criticisms against him were that he likes to bat away passes rather than try and intercept them, so there were question marks over his aggression. Training Camp and defensive coaching will have targeted that concern if his performance against Jacksonville is anything to go by. Observing Training Camp have all noted how aggressive he’s been, not backing down to seasoned veterans and holding his own.
The Cleveland Browns have excellent depth at cornerback with Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome II, Greedy Williams, and AJ Green, all excellent starters. With six likely starting cornerbacks on their roster, Martin Emerson Jr appears to have propelled himself into the rotation on the 53-man roster, and the Browns can look forward to a solid secondary performance throughout the 2022 season.
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