BEREA, Ohio — The Browns are planning on two of their top defensive picks in the recent NFL Draft to bolster their run defense in a big way, while also helping in the passing defense.
Defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil said he felt confident with the players from last year, but is excited to add Shelton and Cooper to the mix.
“I was confident either way with the guys we had coming back,” O’Neil said. “But am I glad we got Danny, hell yeah.
“He’s a big body, who has been dominant at Washington and in the PAC–12 the last two years,” O’Neil said. “He’s a guy that’s going to command four hands or two bodies on him that keeps linebackers clean. He’s not going to have great sack production, but he’s going to push the pocket and cause the quarterback to move out of that spot. That’s what we really needed in the passing game, somebody who opens things up in the passing game for (the pass rushers).”
Shelton expects to become the run stopper the Browns expect.
“As far as the defense, I’m expecting the same thing as far as producing a run stopper,” Shelton said. “I’m also going to add to the pass rushing game. Those are the two main things I want to focus on this offseason.”
O’Neil said he personally worked out Shelton and Cooper. He sees Cooper as another player up front that can be disruptive.
“We see him as a big end or D-tackle,” O’Neil said. “He’s an explosive guy that can get into the backfield and be disruptive. We felt he had the best first step of interior lineman in the draft. We had him ranked as coaching staff very high and were shocked he was still there at the bottom of the third round.”
Shelton was asked after his first practice at rookie minicamp what he is most excited about as being a member of the Browns.
“The future really,” Shelton said. “I think of what we can be with this draft class and the players we’re about to sign.“
O’Neil said stopping the run has been the coaching staff’s top priority this off-season after giving up 141.6 yards a game last season, 32nd in the NFL.
“Stopping the run is huge for us,” O’Neil said before the second day of rookie minicamp practice. “As a coaching staff we spent most of our off-season studying it. I am very confident in the players in the room that we can get it done. I am very confident in the scheme. The scheme has proven success in this league when it comes to stopping the run.
“Stopping the run leads to a lot of things,” he said. “It leads to more turnovers, more sacks because you’re putting offenses in more predictable situations. It leads to less play on the field, which leads to less injuries when you’re not on the field as much and it also leads to more possessions for our offense, which means more points.”
“Our defensive philosophy was built on stopping the run first,” O’Neil said. “The guys know that and understand that. It is one of the first things I talked to them when I first was with them. And when we stop the run it allows us to be more exotic with some of our pressure packages and to get after the quarterback. But it’s all built on stopping the run first. We have to earn the right to get after the quarterback and if we don’t earn the right, then we find ourselves in 50/50 downs where it’s hard to get after the quarterback.”
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.”
Shelton feels he’s already adjusting to the Browns defensive scheme.
“Just based off the plays they’ve given us it seems pretty simple actually. With my background I’ve played in a lot of defenses and it’s nothing different. Going off of today, I feel pretty confident in what I’m doing and we’re getting on the same page.”