He now serves as NFL Media’s personnel guru. Brandt’s expertise isn’t limited to current rosters. He’s also a great resource for pre-draft insight. Brandt recently released his annual list of the top 150 prospectsleading up to the 2017 NFL Draft.
For all the media members who specialize in talent evaluation, few (if any) are as qualified as Gil Brandt. The former Dallas Cowboys executive spent more than three decades in NFL front offices.
Here are the five biggest takeaways.
1. Two QBs in the Top 10
The first seven players listed in Brandt’s rankings are the usual suspects: Myles Garrett, Leonard Fournette, Solomon Thomas, Marshon Lattimore, Jamal Adams, Malik Hooker and Jonathan Allen. But things get interesting at No. 8.
Brandt has North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky in that spot, followed by Clemson signal-caller Deshaun Watson at No. 9. There aren’t many other draft analysts who have a single quarterback ranked in the top 10, let alone two.
“Has very good accuracy,” Brandt noted on Trubisky. “Moves around well. Quick release. Has traits that usually translate to NFL success.”
And on Watson: “He doesn't have the strongest arm, but he has great character, is accurate, and is a proven winner.”
2. A Surprise for Best WR
No, it’s not Clemson’s Mike Williams, nor is it Western Michigan’s Corey Davis. Rather, Washington’s John Ross claims the title as Brandt’s top-ranked wideout and sits at No. 10 overall.
The Huskies speedster stole the show at the NFL Scouting Combine with a record 4.22-second 40-yard dash. Those wheels are a rare commodity and come with a heavy price tag. A top 15 pick might be the cost to enlist Ross’ services.
3. Cornerbacks a Plenty
It’s been well documented that this year’s class of cornerbacks is one of the best ever. Brandt clearly sees things the same way. Seven of his top 32 players are corners. That list includes Ohio State’s Lattimore and Gareon Conley, USC’s Adoree’ Jackson, Florida’s Quincy Wilson, Washington’s Kevin King, LSU’s Tre’Davious White and Colorado’s Chidobe Awuzie.
4. Bucking the Trend
There are several players who have been rising up draft boards over the past few weeks. However, Brandt isn’t so quick to jump on the hype train of Wisconsin linebacker T.J. Watt (60th overall), East Carolina wide receiver Zay Jones (62), Connecticut safety Obi Melifonwu or Cal quarterback Davis Webb (81).
Each of those four players have been suggested as potential first round picks or at a minimum locks for the second round.
5. Finding Value at Receiver
Marquee names like Ross, Williams and Davis will come at a premium cost, but they also might not be worth San Francisco’s No. 2 overall pick. The 49ers could opt to trade back or make a move to get back into the first round, but the odds are that pick No. 34 in the second round will be the team’s next chance at grabbing a pass-catcher.
Brandt has several decorated college receivers ranked outside of his top 50 prospects. These players bring with them impressive résumés and could be options for the 49ers as deep into the draft as the third round.
Penn State’s Chris Godwin, Jones, Eastern Washington’s Cooper Kupp and Oklahoma’s Dede Westbrook could all be intriguing options for John Lynch and Co. on Day 2 of the draft.