Danny Shelton packs a wallop in impressive debut for Cleveland Browns
COLUMBUS, Ohio – If Roger Goodell tuned into the NFL Network on Friday night and saw Browns nose tackle Danny Shelton hitting Marlon Moore, the NFL Commissioner knows he got off easy on draft night.
The No. 12 overall pick made his grand entrance in the league by bear hugging Goodell on stage in Chicago and lifting him off his feet. Poor Moore should have been as lucky.
After catching a 5-yard pass along the sideline in the intra-squad scrimmage, the reserve wideout was leveled by the hard-charging defensive lineman along the sideline. The night’s biggest hit was delivered by a 339-pounder who had dropped into coverage and closed ground impressively for a man of his heft.
“I know he is not the fastest guy, but when he gets there, he packs a punch,” Browns coach Mike Pettine said. “I was just happy to see Marlon get up from that shot.”
On an evening belonging to Johnny Manziel and his continued improvement, the Browns left Ohio Stadium also pleased with the effort of their first pick. The University of Washington product showcased his strength, quickness and ability to collapse the pocket. Shelton forced Manziel into an errant throw with good pressure and played a role in Nate Orchard’s sack of the backup quarterback.
His plodding 40-yard dash time at the NFL combine led some critics to wonder whether the Browns spent a high pick on a two-down player. And while it was merely a scrimmage against teammates, Shelton demonstrated the relentlessness and physical prowess that could make him a third-down contributor.
Both quarterback pressures came on third downs.
“He’s incredibly impressive,” said Manziel, who threw one pass away to avoid Shelton as the quarterback rolled right. “He had a bull rush there and he’s fast. That’s what you expect out of a first-round pick.”
Shelton’s performance surely pleased position coach Anthony Weaver, who scoffs at those who hold the 40-time against the rookie.
“I’m not coaching track stars,” Weaver said in June. “I’m coaching football players. There’s a lot of guys who run a 4.8, but when you put the tape on they don’t play to that 4.8. He plays a lot faster than that 40 time.”
Just ask Moore, who was being wrapped up by corner Justin Gilbert when the beefy Samoan made his presence felt.
“I talked to (Moore) after the play,” Shelton said. “He said it was a good play on him. He said next time it had to be against another teammate, another player.”
Shelton inherited jersey No. 71, which had belonged to Ahtyba Rubin who was allowed to leave via free agency. The hustle play was reminiscent of ones Rubin made in his prime with the franchise.
The Browns drafted Shelton to plug holes in a run defense that finished last in the NFL a year ago. He also excelled at making plays outside the hash marks with the Huskies.
“It’s a mindset you have to have,” Shelton said. “When you play football you’re always told never to quit. As the years have gone by and I have grown into the game that’s just a part of me — to run to the ball.”
Shelton, who recorded 9.5 sacks last season, wants to prove himself as a multi-dimensional player. He hopes defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil will let him drop into coverage occasionally to make plays like the one on Moore.
“College tape is my resume for now,” Shelton said.
He added to it Friday with a solid pro debut, one fitting a first rounder who won’t take as easy on ball carriers as he did The Commish.