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The View From Pluto: Northeast Ohio's Own NFL Draft Expert Known for 'The Beast'

Dane Brugler, 33, has become one of the NFL's top draft anlaysts. The Warren native recenly moved home with his family.
Dane Brugler, 33, has become one of the NFL's top draft anlaysts. The Warren native recenly moved home with his family.

The NFL draft is going forward next week, with a little less fanfare amid the pandemic. The event will be held virtually, without hugs and handshakes. And for the last few weeks, experts, including one of Northeast Ohio’s own, have been poring over the prospects. WKSU sports commentator Terry Pluto says Dane Brugler, 33, of Warren has become one of the draft's elite analysts.

A cottage industry

Anyone who casually follows the NFL has likely heard of Mel Kiper, Jr. "He was just a fan who started putting together a draft guide in the late 1970s," Pluto said. "By the middle '80s, he was selling enough of these things to make money. The next thing you know he got on ESPN. And now he has a guy next to him, Todd McShay. This is all they do."

About 250 players are selected in seven rounds during draft weekend. "These draft guides will probably have 500 names in them but it's created this whole cottage industry of people who want to grow up to become the next Mel Kiper," Pluto said. 

NEO's draft expert

Enter Dane Brugler. The 33-year-old Warren native has become a household names among experts.

"He didn't play football or anything in high school," Pluto said. "When he was 13 years old, that's when the Browns came back in 1999 and he found himself watching that draft when they took Tim Couch. So he began putting together his own scouting reports based on what he taped off of TV."

Brugler began working for the athletics department when he was a freshman at Mount Union University. That was when the Purple Raiders football team had a pro prospect in Pierre Garcon. "These scouts were coming in, and Brugler volunteered to take them around campus and he would get these guys talking," Pluto said. 

After graduating from Mount Union in 2008, Brugler went to work for the Class AAA Frisco Roughriders. And he kept networking. "He would start paying his way to the NFL Combine where the scouts would get together or the Senior Bowl in Alabama," Pluto said. Brugler connected with people working in the media and started getting on talk shows with his draft guide. "And every year his draft book started getting bigger and bigger and in 2013 he started doing it full-time," Pluto said. 

The Beast

Now, Brugler works for The Athletic and his annual draft guide is called The Beast. It's 250,000 words with reports on some 400 players. "When I hear a name the Browns are looking at, I go to The Beast and I find out a lot about him," Pluto said. 

As for Brugler's top 15 players in the 2020 draft, he has Ohio State's Chase Young at No. 1, followed by LSU quarterback Joe Burrow. Cornerback Jeff Okudah of Ohio State is third. 

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