2015 NFL Draft: Grading the Browns pick of Danny Shelton


Apr 30, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Danny Shelton (Washington) poses for a photo after being selected as the number 12th overall pick to the Cleveland Browns in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns may not have pulled off the type of move that wins offseason headlines in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, but they may have made the type of moves that make headlines when it matters.

General manager Ray Farmer opened the night by selecting Washington nose tackle Danny Shelton, a player that Browns fans should come to love and, more importantly, opponents in the AFC North Division will come to fear.

Shelton fills one of the biggest needs for the Browns – stopping the run. The Browns finished near the bottom of the NFL rankings in 2014, coming in at 27th in yards per carry (4.5), 28th in runs of 20-plus yards (16) and 32nd in rushing yards per game (141.6).

It was the fourth time in the past six seasons that the Browns have ranked 27th or worst in rushing yards allowed per game (the best finish in the time period was 18th in 2013), so adding a player who has been described as being “built like a Coke machine and just as tough to move” was a prudent move by the Browns.

“The college coaches who have gone against (Shelton) have made the comment they’re glad he’s gone,” head coach Mike Pettine told the team’s website. “He’s gone against elite competition and played well. I think he’s an example of you believe the tape more than you believe the stopwatch or tape measure.”

Almost as important as Shelton’s game on the field is his life off of it. An academic All-American at Washington, Shelton has studied abroad in Tahiti and spent time mentoring Polynesian high school students in the Seattle area.

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After the season the Browns had in 2014, with Josh Gordon’s suspension and Johnny Manziel’s difficult transition to the NFL, Farmer and Pettine have to be pleased that they won’t have to worry about Shelton when he is not at team headquarters in Berea.

Shelton was also able to translate his intelligence on the field, according to his defensive line coach at Washington, Jeff Choate.

“You need to be able to anticipate to be a dominant player. He was so locked in to what we were doing, he was making checks for us in coverage,” Choate told USA TODAY Sports. “He really understands the big picture. He wants to know why we’re doing things. Don’t get that a lot from d-lineman. His intellect made him curious.”

It is extremely difficult to find anything not to like about the Browns selection Shelton, who should help the Browns garner the only type of headlines that matter come this fall.

Grade: A

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