When the Cleveland Browns selected Danny Shelton with the 12th pick in the 1st Round expectations were high. I recently noted in a radio interview that Shelton could help the Browns run defense go from dead last to Top 15 against the run. That would be a huge impact, especially in the AFC North that is built around good run games.
Tonight in the Browns' Scrimmage in Columbus, not only was Shelton as advertised as a big man in the middle of the defense but he was also getting penetration and even dropped into coverage. Shelton started in a 2 point stance on a quick screen to WR Marlon Moore. Shelton chased the ball and finished off Moore as he went out of bounds, with a THUD:
I was standing next to Browns President Alec Scheiner when this played happened. He clapped his hands and said "Wow."
My thoughts exactly.
Caught up with Shelton after the game and asked him about dropping into coverage. He said he never dropped into coverage in a game at Washington but that the Scrimmage was like a game and was fun to do. Pictures of big Vince Wilfork picking off passes and rumbling to the endzone ran through my head.
Shelton's personality was obvious and infectious, both during the Scrimmage and while interacting with teammates, fans and the media. QB Johnny Manziel noted Shelton's leadership as well:
"Danny is a really good leader for that rookie class."
Official stats were not kept but Shelton was involved in at least one sack, combining with Nate Orchard to get quick penetration. He was engaged on every play, showing the kind of motor that led him to staying on the field for all 3 downs in college. His huge snap count last year may have led to some tiring late in games and in the season.
Thankfully the Browns have good depth on the defensive line, but keeping Shelton off the field could be tough for HC Mike Pettine.
While GM Ray Farmer's first draft, Manziel and Justin Gilbert, still have a lot to prove, with Shelton's play tonight, and all reports from Training Camp so far, Farmer got this one right.
Danny Shelton made a big impact tonight and Browns fans should get used to hearing his name connected with high praise. From everything I saw from field level, Shelton is the real deal.
What do you think of the #12 pick in his early time with the team?