Thursday, March 30, 2023
HomeNFLSteelers, Ravens find building blocks; mixed bag for Bengals, Browns

Steelers, Ravens find building blocks; mixed bag for Bengals, Browns

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Round 3

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Notable free agent signees:

Drafted for his length, the 6-foot-2 Emerson quietly compiled a quality season for a rookie corner. He was consistently effective in tough matchups, blanketing Steelers rookie George Pickens one-on-one and effectively eliminating Buccaneers star Mike Evans in Week 12. Other rookie corners (e.g., Defensive Rookie of the Year Sauce Gardner and Tariq Woolen) received more attention, but Emerson was right behind them in terms of performance; he gives the Browns another trusty option among their talented corners. Wright played more often than most likely expected and made a minor impact that was more noticeable on tape than the stat sheet, but he still has plenty of room to improve. Bell arrived as a developmental replacement for Jarvis Landry in the slot, but injuries hampered the start to his pro career. He began finding his footing, but his evaluation is incomplete, due to a lack of opportunity (he finished with 24 receptions on 35 targets). Winfrey’s highlight tape got Browns fans excited coming in, but while he could occasionally overpower some blockers in pass-rushing situations, he showed he’s not yet consistent enough to be counted upon to make a significant difference inside. York began his Browns career by nailing a 58-yard field goal to help secure the team’s second season-opening win since returning to the NFL in 1999. He had an up-and-down year, converting 75 percent of field-goal attempts and notably missing two extra-point tries (including one that led to a 1-point Browns loss in Week 2), but he started to settle in late in the season.

The Browns had too many running backs on the roster to give Ford ample snaps, but they did work him into the return game, where he proved to be dangerous. The preseason star should see more action in 2023 after veteran back Kareem Hunt’s expected departure. The Browns had a clear need at receiver throughout much of 2022; that issue perhaps overshadowed the very few glimpses of Woods’ talent we saw. He caught just five passes, with his longest going for 15 yards, and injuries got in the way, but there might be something there. The high point of Thomas’ season came in a Monday Night Football game against Cincinnati, when he powered through the outside shoulder of Jonah Williams with a rip move and sacked Joe Burrow. Outside of that, there wasn’t a whole lot to say, other than that he’s another player who looked better on tape than on the stat sheet. Deaton suffered a season-ending injury before the start of the campaign. Bell served almost exclusively as a special teamer until the end of the season, finishing with 14 tackles. Signed off the Dolphins’ practice squad in November, Stille filled an unexpected rotational role, peaking at 28 defensive snaps played in Week 11. 

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