Trevon Coley's unexpected rise up the Browns depth chart: 'It means I'm doing the right thing'

Trevon Coley's unexpected rise up the Browns depth chart has been one of training camp's biggest surprises but was no revelation to Danny Shelton.

Earlier this month, the third-year defensive lineman and former first-round draft pick said Coley — an undrafted free agent in 2016 who bounced from practice squad to practice squad — was flying under the radar.

"He's been probably one of the most productive D-linemen since OTAs," Shelton said.

That meant a lot coming from one of the leaders of Cleveland's defense. And since that exchange, Coley has found himself in the spotlight, though he caught the attention of his teammates and the coaching staff long ago.

"It means I'm doing the right thing," Coley said Tuesday. "I just try to come out here every day and do my best, do what the coaches ask of me."

In what's arguably the Browns' deepest position group, Coley has stood out. On the team's unofficial depth chart, he's listed with the second team defense and earned some first-team reps throughout camp.

"He's one of those guys with a big, low center of gravity," Jackson said with a wide smile. "He can push. He knows how to knock people back. I think he has really improved and come on, like a lot of our front guys have."

Coley also embodies defensive coordinator Gregg Williams' philosophy that focuses on production and not past laurels or draft status.

"I think the way we kind of do it on defense is you earn your keep," Jackson said. "So he's playing well. We'll keep giving guys opportunities. If you demonstrate on our football team that you have the skill and you can help us win, we are going to give you an opportunity to be out there."

Coley started every game in four years at FAU and left as one of the most productive players in school history, totaling 195 tackles, 12.5 sacks and an interception. He was his team's captain and MVP his senior year, earning high marks for his "practice habits and energy" according to his NFL Draft profile.

When he went undrafted in 2016, Coley chalked it up to something beyond his control. "It happens. If I could have wrote the story, it would have been written different," he said. "But that's the challenge that was placed in front of me and I'm all for it."

That approach has served Coley well as competes for a spot on the 53-man roster. In the process, he's leaned on veteran counterparts Shelton and Jamie Meder (who also went undrafted out of Ashland) with Thursday's preseason opener against the Saints fast approaching.

"(Meder) has also been through the whole, like you said, the whole undrafted deal," Coley said. "He had to earn everything that he has. It's the same here. Nothing is given to you, for anybody here."

That's why Coley won't rest now as he starts to gain some attention.

"You always want to put your best foot forward in anything you do and try to help the team," he said. "It's whatever I can help the team, however way, that's why I'm here."

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