With their first round draft pick, 12th overall, the Browns surprised many by selecting a nose tackle to be the face of their future. Pac-12 and Washington Huskies star Danny Shelton, however, is a solid selection that should help shore up a defense that has been severely lacking in physicality in recent years. As a Huskie, Shelton was tops in the country in fumble recoveries, snagging five of them. He also had 16 tackles that resulted in a loss during the 2014 seasons, in addition to having 93 total tackles. Starting 40 games at nose tackle during his college playing career provided much footage for the Browns to look at, and they obviously liked what they saw. At the combine, he ran his way to a 5.64 second 40-yard dash, and completed 34 repetitions on the bench press to demonstrate his strength. To illustrate his ability to deflect passes, he showed a vertical jump of 30.5 inches and a 95.0-inch broad jump. In addition, he picked it up to gain a time of 7.99 seconds on the 3-cone drill and 4.65 second on the 20-yard shuttle. For a defensive tackle, these combine numbers were certainly respectable.
Graphic via dailyherald
At 6 foot 2 and just under 340 pounds, Shelton should pack just the punch on the defensive line that the Saints are looking for. He is a big, strong man whose major strength rests in the body leverage that he possesses. He is wide, so he eats up a great deal of space, which enables him to consistently gain the upper ground against opposing offensive linemen. His ability to make tackles should earn him significant playing time in his rookie year, and he could possibly creep into the starting lineup if he can show some consistency on a team that severely underperformed last year at nearly every position.
Therein lies Shelton’s major weakness. He has been inconsistent at times, but this could be chalked up to youth and immaturity. When the Huskies came against more experienced centers, he struggled, which would indicate this would be the case at the pro level as well. He needs to retain confidence and pose in order to truly excel in the NFL, but he appears to have the work ethic to do just that. In addition, as is the case with many nose tackles, Shelton has shown an ability to let his weight get away from him, which is certainly not going to work in the pros. He must work to keep his weight at a manageable level and work on his speed, while staying strong. If he can do these things, then the Saints will indeed have chosen well. They need him, that’s for sure, so time will tell if the investment of their first round pick will pay off.
Graphic via seattlepi