Browns Preseason Standout Dubbed Top Steal of 2022 NFL Draft

Alex Wright, Browns

Getty Defensive end Alex Wright #94 of the Cleveland Browns during the second quarter of a preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 21, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

The Cleveland Browns may not have been expecting to hit a home run in the 2022 NFL Draft after trading a haul of picks to acquire QB Deshaun Watson. As it turns out, they may have actually hit two.

Cleveland didn’t make a selection until the third round, when they picked three players — cornerback Martin Emerson (68th pick), pass rusher Alex Wright (78th pick) and wide receiver David Bell (99th pick). All three are expected to play major rotational roles at their respective positions, though the Browns may have gotten more than they bargained for when they drafted Wright — in a good way.

Cleveland is stacked on the edge with All Pro Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney slotted to start at defensive end. However, behind the dynamic duo that combined for 25 sacks last season, the position is troublingly thin. Now in retrospect, the addition of Wright looks to be exactly what Cleveland needed to solidify its pass rushing depth.

“He was really a favorite across the organization — scouts, coaches and our research and strategy group,” Browns general manager Andrew Berry said of Wright in late April, per the Akron Beacon Journal.

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Alex Wright Listed Among Top 10 Draft Day Steals Prior to Season

Getty ImagesDefensive ends Jadeveon Clowney (left) and Myles Garrett (right) of the Cleveland Browns.

Brent Sobleski of Bleacher Report on Friday, September 2, put together a ranking of the top 10 draft day steals ahead of the start of the regular season. Wright slotted in at eighth on that list.

Sobleski laid out his argument for Wright as follows:

The team lacked quality depth behind its two game-changers. Last season, another former first-round pick, Takkarist McKinley — as well as Porter Gustin and Ifeadi Odenigbo — didn’t get the job done when they rotated on the field.

Whereas rookie third-round pick Alex Wright is in the perfect situation to develop properly. In a lot of ways, he already looks the part. … Wright is 6’5″ and 267 pounds. The 21-year-old has the size and length to turn a dynamic duo into a terrific trio.

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.

Browns May Have Also Hit Big With Wide Receiver David Bell

David Bell, Browns

GettyWide receiver David Bell of the Cleveland Browns catches a pass during the second quarter of a preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 21, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

While Wright looks to play a significant role on the edge for Cleveland in 2022, his chances to start during his rookie season are limited due to the talent already present on the outside of the defensive line. Such is not the case for the Browns’ third-round receiver Bell.

Bell is listed on the team’s current depth chart as a starter alongside No. 1 option Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones, per ESPN. Bell joins a group that lost Odell Beckham Jr. during the middle of last year and Jarvis Landry over the offseason, the top two targets in the passing game in 2021.

Wideout Anthony Schwartz has struggled with drops throughout the preseason, setting up Bell to begin his career as a primary option for backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett who is filling in while Watson is suspended.

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