April 30, 2015
By Fred Greetham
OBR Senior Reporter
BEREA, Ohio—When you’re last in stopping the run, there’s no place to go but up.
The Browns addressed their biggest need with one of the biggest players in the draft in 339-pound run stopper Danny Shelton.
After finishing 32nd in the NFL in rushing defense, the Browns expect Shelton to improve the defense immediately.
“(Stopping the run) was obviously, an area of concern,” Mike Pettine said. “We gave up some big rushing games. We felt we needed to bolster our stopping the run.”
Shelton is expected to step in and help right away.
“I expect to be a run stopper and add to the passing game,” Shelton said on a conference call moments after being selected by the Browns. “I didn’t know if I was coming here or not, but I was smiling and it’s exciting. Its crazy now I get to go to the Dawg Pound.”
Farmer said Shelton is exactly the type of player the Browns want in the middle of their defense.
“(Shelton’s) definitely is a guy who I like to refer to as a guy who requires four hands, where he’s going to require more than one guy to pay attention to him,” Farmer said. “I love his temperament. I love how he played. I love that this kid is a smart kid, high GPA – high school and college. The guy is a football player. We’re excited about the fact that we’re going to add a guy that helps us solidify the middle of our defense and make us better up front.”
One of the concerns about drafting a player as big as Shelton is that he might only be able to play one or two downs, but Farmer doesn’t see it that way.
“I see him as a guy that can potentially play three downs,” Farmer said. “I know he is going to help us to get to third and long. The question is do we have better rushers than him? Potentially. I think that we probably do have some guys that are better rushers, but I don’t think this guy is a void of playing three downs. I think there is a possibility he does play all three downs.”
“When you watch the tape, he plays some like his hair is on fire,” Pettine said. “I think he can play on third down. He did have nine sacks and can push the pocket. If he’s not getting production, he’s causing production.”
Pettine expects Phil Taylor and Shelton to man the middle of the defensive line, but did mention that Taylor is still recovering from the knee injury that put him on injured reserve last season.
“We’re thrilled to have that skill set in the middle,” Pettine said. “Phil had the injury and we’re hoping to get him back. There is some uncertainty but felt we needed that big guy in the middle. On obvious running situations, we feel pretty good in the middle.”
Shelton, who has Samoan heritage, started at nose tackle for the Huskies in all games the last three seasons. Shelton had 93 tackles last season, including nine sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss.
“Danny Shelton, obviously a big kid with size,” Farmer said. “Here’s a young man who played upwards of 90 to 100 snaps out there in the PAC–12. He showed some ability to rush the passer, can play lateral and down the line of scrimmage.
Shelton takes pride that he played hurt for much of last season and attributes that to his mentality.
“It’s all discipline,” he said. “I prepare myself mentally and physically to play over 70 snaps. I’m not going to go down. I played the whole season with a sprained shoulder. I think that shows my warrior attitude.”