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Browns Take 2nd in Draft Rankings

Danny Shelton and the Browns have a small reason to celebrate.

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Selecting two linemen in the first round of the NFL Draft isn't a sexy strategy.

Fans favor exciting playmakers over reliable "big uglies." That didn't stop Browns general manager Ray Farmer from ignoring the noise and selecting Danny Shelton and Cameron Erving in the first round.

Count NFL Media senior analyst Gil Brandt among the confident camp of media members aligned with Farmer's way of thinking. recently published draft rankings based on Brandt's "Hot 100 prospects" list. Using a point system (100 points for Brandt's #1 prospect, 99 points for #2 prospect, etc.), the Browns finished second.

Ranking the 2015 Draft class is largely a shot in the dark at this point. At least three years is typically needed to fully judge a GM's draft. Brandt does deserve some leeway, however, as he has a keen eye for football talent. Brandt served as vice president of player personnel for the Cowboys from 1960 to 1989.

Here's the writeup for the Browns, penned by Mike Huguenin:

2. Cleveland Browns: 248 points (5 players)

Overview: The Browns had two first-round picks and used them to select two of Brandt's top 26 players. Each of Cleveland's first five picks were Hot 100 players and the Browns got them in the first three rounds, though they didn't select them in Brandt's order. The Browns got DE Nate Orchard in the second round and RB Duke Johnson in the third round; Johnson was ahead of Orchard on Brandt's list.

The players (points):
No. 13 NT Danny Shelton, Washington (88)
No. 26 C Cameron Erving, Florida State (75)
No. 61 RB Duke Johnson, Miami (40)
No. 65 DE Nate Orchard, Utah (36)
No. 92 DT Xavier Cooper, Washington State (9)
The Vikings took first with 290 points, while the Cowboys slid in behind the Browns at third with 237. The Ravens (11th), Bengals (21st), and Steelers (24th) all finished outside the top ten.

At this point, Brandt's rankings mean little in the grand scheme of things. One published list of draft rankings does not ensure that a team's selections will pan out.

The primary takeaway from the rankings is that Browns fans can remain assured that Farmer and the Browns have a clear plan and are following it. Media recognition is nice, but Brandt is a former personnel man, too. His approval carries weight, and could signal a sense of things to come for the Browns.