The 6-foot-2, 335 pound nose tackle Danny Shelton heads to New England after three professional seasons in Cleveland. Shelton’s versatility along the defensive line makes him a good fit for how the Patriots scheme on defense.
Danny Shelton knows what it’s like to lose in the NFL. He won only four of the 46 games he played in Cleveland, and played through an 0-16 season last year. Now, the 12th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft will play for a team that has played in the last two Super Bowls. In the process, he can finally showcase the skills that got him drafted so high.
He leaves one of the worst teams in the NFL, and lands on one of the best teams. So what did the Browns get in terms of compensation?
That appears to be rather light in compensation. The Patriots get a 2018 fifth-round pick, defensive tackle Danny Shelton, and will only part with a 2019 third-round pick? Is that… legal? Apparently so. But it’s certainly great news for one Washington Husky
He was dominant at Washington
In his senior season for the Huskies, Shelton was a run-stuffing menace, recording 92 total tackles, 40 more than he had his junior season. He also put up nine sacks, six and a half more than he had in his first three seasons combined. This combination quickly shot him up the NFL Draft ladder. Scouts lauded him as a “space-eater”.
In other words, a defensive lineman who could take on double teams and shed blocks quickly to make tackles. Pac-12 offenses forced Shelton to learn how to play from sideline-to-sideline, a valuable asset at the next level. He was a bully at the college level, with skills that translated to the NFL nicely.
Three miserable seasons in Cleveland
Shelton joined the NFL via the Cleveland Browns team which knew only losing. He started all 16 games each of his first two seasons, winning only four games in that span. His best season came in 2016, when he recorded 59 total tackles and had 1.5 sacks. But his game got no exposure on a national level because no one took the Browns seriously. And for good reason. The Cleveland Browns have not been competitive.
Cleveland wasted his elite run-stopping ability, and Shelton needed a new team that could utilize his skill set. That’s exactly what he got. The Browns continue to divest of their top draft picks from each of the previous NFL Drafts.
Apparently, they want a fresh start. Literally.
Change of scenery
Now that he will play in New England, Shelton can show off how deadly he is in the interior. New England was 20th against the run last season, but that should only get better with the addition of Shelton. He ranked as the 19th best run stuffing interior lineman in the league last season, according to Pro Football Focus. The Patriots historically run a multiple defense scheme, and defensive lineman are asked to play in a two-gap scheme. Shelton excels in that kind of scheme, as his ability to win at the point of attack and wreak havoc in the middle should force opponents into more passing situations.
He is not obligated to be an every-down lineman anymore, with the Pats’ current rotation of Malcom Brown, Lawrence Guy, Vincent Valentine, and anyone else they may pick up in the draft. Shelton will be much fresher as a result and can thrive in late-game situations.
Overall, this is a move that comes at the right time for both Shelton’s career and the Patriots. New England needed to acquire a player like Shelton after witnessing the team’s inability to stop the run in the Super Bowl and the season at large. Shelton needed a team like New England in order for his career to progress. Now, he has the chance to prove that he is every bit the player he was hyped up to be while wearing the purple and gold.