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Trust Talent Time

Browns to meet with NT Danny Shelton

According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com, the Browns will attend Danny Shelton’s pro day on April 2nd and also schedule a private workout with him.

The Browns finished last in run defense in 2014 and have a number of defensive linemen with only a single year left on their contracts (including Phil Taylor, Billy Winn, and Ishmaa’ily Kitchen), so they are likely to consider adding new blood to the position.

Danny Shelton is unanimously regarded as a first round draft prospect (well, as much as things can be unanimous at this time of year).

According to his bio at Go Huskies.com, Shelton has played in every game in each of his four seasons and has started every game at nose tackle from his sophomore season onward. He was named first-team All-America as a senior and named honorable mention All-Pac-12 as a junior.

Shelton is an anthropology major and is just two classes away from completing his degree. As of November, he had a 3.54 GPA. In his sophomore and junior seasons, he was named first-team Academic All-Pac-12. As a senior, he was named first-team Academic All-America.

Danny Shelton checked in at 6’2″ 339 pounds at the NFL Combine. Let’s compare his combine numbers to the other defensive tackle prospects of recent years who weighed in over 340 pounds in their pre-draft workouts and who were drafted in the first four rounds: Dontari Poe, Alameda Ta’amu, Kenrick Ellis, Paul Soliai, and Haloti Ngata.

40   Bench Vert Broad 3cone shuttle
Shelton	5.64  34   30.5 7'11" 7.99  4.65
Poe	4.98  44   29.5 8'9"  7.90  4.56
Ta'amu	5.37  35   26   8'7"  7.52  4.72
Ellis	5.27  26   32   8'6"  7.84  4.88
Soliai	5.14  -    29.5 8'7"  7.66  4.53
Ngata	5.16  37   31.5 9'2"  7.95  4.65

First off, we can see that each guy on this list has demonstrated at least reasonable ability to succeed in the NFL. Ngata and Poe are stars. Soliai is a key cog of the Falcons’ defense. Ellis was in the shadow of Snacks Harrison with the Jets but could carve out a big role in a Giants defense that was 30th against the run last year. Similary, Ta’amu has shown promise as a backup and has an opportunity to step into a starting nose tackle job in Arizona following Dan Williams’ exit.

The sample size is only 5 players so we can’t draw any statistically valid conclusions, but it’s not a bad sign for Shelton that all five of the other 340-pound defensive tackles deemed talented enough to be selected in the top four rounds have had a degree of success in the NFL.

As for the numbers, Shelton’s short shuttle time is quite good and stands well with this group. His bench and vertical fall along the group average. His 3-cone is the worst by a very narrow margin. His broad jump and 40 time are both rather poor compared to the other players in this list.

Ellis was a third round pick. Soliai and Ta’amu were fourth rounders. Shelton’s numbers more closely match theirs and are inferior across the board to those of first round picks Ngata and Poe.

So, if it’s not the numbers, what is it that vaults Shelton into his surefire first round status?

Rob Rang of CBS Sports captured it well, calling Danny Shelton “Surprisingly coordinated and flexible despite his square-ish frame” and describing him as “surprisingly light on his feet”. Rang also points out his ability to locate the football and overall awareness as considerable strengths. None of these show up in the combine numbers.

Where they do show up is on his game tape and, at least to some extent, in his production:

	Gm  Tak  TFL  Sacks
2014	13   93  16.5   9.0
2013	13   59   3.5   2.0
2012	13   45   4.0   0.5
2011	14   11   0.0   0.0
Total	53  208  24.0  11.5