Shelton dominates among top nose guards

Massive nose guard Danny Shelton has earned his spot atop the positional rankings, as demonstarted in a series of charts showcasing the performances of the top nose guards against the run, against the pass, and with their positive plays and negative plays. Scout.com draft analyst Dave-Te' Thomas has the numbers to prove it.

These charts compare the performances of the top-rated nose guards eligible for the 2015 draft, using their 2014 season statistics for this project. Each of the players listed below are considered to be early-round draft selections.

 

I examine each athlete’s performance in detailed categories, based on game averages or percentage of plays. The unquestioned leader here is Danny Shelton, as he led the nation’s interior defensive linemen with 16.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage. Shelton also led the nation’s interior defenders with nine sacks, the 12th-best season total in school history. No defensive tackle/nose guard since the NCAA first began recognizing fumble recoveries an official statistic has ever led the nation in that category. That is, not until the Husky senior accomplished that feat with five fumble recoveries in 2014.

 

 
NOSE GUARD TALE OF THE TAPE
PLAYERSCHOOL CLASSHEIGHT WEIGHT40-YD
Michael BennettOhio State Senior6:02.0 2934.98
Malcom BrownTexas Junior6:02.3 3195.05
Carl DavisIowa Senior6:04.5 3205.07
Eddie GoldmanFlorida State Junior6:03.7 3365.28
Jordan PhillipsOklahoma Junior6:05.2 3295.17
Danny SheltonWashington Senior6:02.1 3395.64


RUN DEFENSE COMPARISON CHART
 STATISTICS PLAY BREAKDOWN vs. THE RUN
PlayerGM TKSO ASTFL NGATT YDSTD LGYPC 1st3rd 4thRZ/GL
BENNETT15 041024 01714.0-065 03035 05101 121.46 0608 0105/03
BROWN13 072039 03315.0-054 05076 05502 130.72 0407 0118/04
DAVIS13 036014 02209.0-027 06048 09501 221.98 0708 0112/04
GOLDMAN14 035019 01608.0-030 04040 03900 080.97 0404 0106/02
PHILLIPS13 039020 01907.0-035 05040 04802 051.20 0307 0006/06
SHELTON14 093053 04016.5-048 12088 04900 080.56 0311 0525/08
NOTES: TK indicates total tackles recorded by the defender…SO indicates solo tackles…AS indicates assisted tackles…TFL indicates tackles behind the line of scrimmage/lost yardage…NG indicates times defender stopped an opponent for no gain on a rushing attempt…ATT indicates plays made vs. the run…YDS indicates yards gained by the defender’s opponents on plays made vs. the run…TD indicates touchdowns allowed vs. the run…LG indicates longest rushing attempt gain vs. the defender…YPC indicates average yards per carry by the opponent vs. the defender…1st indicates carries by an opponent that resulted in a first down vs. the defender…3rd indicates third-down plays made by the defender vs. the run…4th indicates fourth-down plays made by the defender vs. the run…RZ/GL indicates plays made by the defender inside the red zone/on goal-line plays vs. the run.

AGAINST THE RUN COMPARISON AVERAGE
PLAYERTKA RKTFLA RKNG RKR/AVG RK1ST RK3/4S RKRZ/GL RKPTS TOT
BENNETT02.73 50.93 30.20 61.46 50.40 50.60 40.33 608 6
BROWN05.54 21.15 20.38 30.72 20.31 40.62 31.38 224 2
DAVIS02.77 40.69 40.46 21.98 60.54 60.69 20.92 315 3
GOLDMAN02.50 60.57 50.29 50.97 30.29 30.36 60.46 410 5
PHILLIPS03.00 30.54 60.38 31.20 40.23 20.54 50.46 415 3
SHELTON06.64 11.18 10.86 10.56 10.21 10.79 11.79 135 1
NOTES: GP indicates games played…TKA indicate average tackles per game…RK indicates rank in that category…TFLA indicates tackle-for-loss average per game…NG indicates tackles of ball carriers for no gain… R/AVG indicates opponents average gain per rushing attempt vs. the defender…1ST indicates first downs allowed vs. the run…3/4S indicates third and fourth-down stops vs. the run…RZ/GL indicates plays made vs. the run inside the red zone/on goal line plays…PTS indicates points for each ranking category, players receive points based on their finish;-5 points for first, 4 for second, 3 for third, 2 for fourth, 1 for fifth, 0 for sixth… TOT indicates that defensive lineman’s final ranking vs. the other defenders listed.

READING BETWEEN THE LINES
Nose guards spend the bulk of their game occupying multiple blockers and are not known as “tackle machines.” The average for a nose guard is roughly four tackles per game (TKA), making Shelton and Brown well ahead of the rest of the pack. Goldman was nearly invisible for several games and with Florida State allowing opponents to average 170.1 yards per game on the ground (71st in the nation), it is obvious that his lack of production had an adverse effect on the rest of the unit.

 

While nose guards are not traditionally known for pass-rushing skills, stopping ball carriers at the line of scrimmage is just as important (NG). The leader of the pack here is Shelton. In fact, among all interior down linemen eligible for the draft, only Leonard Williams (11) stopped at least 10 ball carriers for no gain. Shelton also showed his drive-killing ability, as all but Goldman showed good production shutting down third- and fourth-down running plays. Two dominant performances on goal-line stands were delivered by both Shelton and Brown, as both should go 1-2 at this position somewhere during the first round of the draft.


PASS DEFENSE COMPARISON CHART
  STATISTICS PLAY BREAKDOWN vs. THE PASS
PlayerGP TKPB INTSACK PRATT NOYDS PCTTD LG1st 3rd4th IC/CD
BENNETT15 04103 0007.0-050 0314 04035 28.5700 0902 0302 01
BROWN13 07201 0006.5-044 0811 03011 27.2700 0600 0201 00
DAVIS13 03600 0002.0-008 0518 06063 33.3300 1704 0200 00
GOLDMAN14 03501 0004.0-024 0108 03042 37.5001 2003 0000 00
PHILLIPS13 03901 0002.0-020 0002 01022 50.0000 2201 0000 00
SHELTON14 09300 0009.0-033 1233 08016 24.2400 0701 1102 06
NOTES: TK indicates total tackles recorded by the defender…PB indicates pass deflections…INT indicates interceptions…SACK indicates sacks recorded/lost yardage…PR indicates times defender pressured the quarterback…ATT indicates number of passes attempted in the defender’s area…NO indicates number of passes caught by an opponent vs. the defender…YDS indicates yards gained by the defender’s opponents on plays made vs. the pass…PCT indicates percentage of passes completed vs. the defender… TD indicates touchdowns allowed vs. the pass…LG indicates longest pass completion vs. the defender… 1st indicates receptions by an opponent that resulted in a first down vs. the defender…3rd indicates third-down plays made by the defender vs. the pass…4th indicates fourth-down plays made by the defender vs. the pass… IC/CD indicates times the defender prevented his pass coverage assignment from catching a pass (re-route/jam/covered on the play) or chased down the ball carrier on a running play.

AGAINST THE PASS COMPARISON AVERAGE
PlayerGP SKARK PRARK 1stRK 3/4SARK PDARK IC/CDRK PTSTOT
BENNETT15 0.473 0.204 0.134 0.203 0.201 0.072 193
BROWN13 0.502 0.622 0.001 0.232 0.082 0.003 242
DAVIS13 0.155 0.383 0.316 0.164 0.004 0.003 114
GOLDMAN14 0.294 0.075 0.215 0.005 0.073 0.003 114
PHILLIPS13 0.155 0.006 0.083 0.005 0.004 0.003 106
SHELTON14 0.641 0.861 0.072 0.931 0.004 0.431 261
NOTES: SKA indicates average of sacks recorded per game…RK indicates rank in that category…PRA indicates average of quarterback pressures per game…1st indicates amount of passing first downs defender allowed an opponent…3/4SA indicates average of third/fourth down stops made by the defender vs. the pass per game…PDA indicates average of passes defended (interceptions/pass break-ups) by the defender per game…IC/CD indicates times the defender prevented his pass coverage assignment from catching a pass (re-route/jam/covered on the play) or chased down the ball carrier on a running play…PTS indicates points scored for each ranking category; players receive points based on their finish-5 points for first, 4 for second, 3 for third, 2 for fourth, 1 for fifth, 0 for sixth…TOT indicates that defensive lineman’s final ranking vs. the other defenders listed.

READING BETWEEN THE LINES
Nose guards are not going to be chasing quarterbacks on every play, but to find one that can not only dominate in shutting down the inside run and apply consistent pressure on the pocket, they are soon coveted at the next level. While both have cemented their draft stock with first-round grades, Brown is more of the patient technician, while Shelton plays as if his “hair is on fire,” thus the colorful hairdo that adorns his top! Shelton paced all interior defenders with nine sacks and led the defensive tackles/nose guards with 16.5 stops-for-loss. He also got tremendous production attacking the pocket, as his 12 QB pressures (PRA) resulted in three fumbles and three interceptions thrown by opposing quarterbacks. Brown was right behinds Shelton, causing two fumbles and a pair of pass thefts from his eight QB chases. Phillips is stationary at the line of scrimmage, lacking awareness if he ever gets into the backfield. In three seasons, he’s recorded just one pressure.


NEGATIVE PLAYS CHARGED AGAINST THE DEFENDER
PLAYERGP 1STR1STP PENTDR TDP10+R 20+R10+P 20+PNP AVGPTS TOT
BENNETT15 0602 0201 0002 0000 0013 0.8702 04
BROWN13 0400 0002 0001 0000 0007 0.5404 2
DAVIS13 0704 0301 0002 0101 0019 1.4600 6
GOLDMAN14 0403 0400 0100 0002 0115 1.0701 5
PHILLIPS13 0301 0002 0000 0000 0107 0.5404 2
SHELTON14 0301 0200 0000 0000 0006 0.4305 1
NOTES: 1STR indicates amount of first downs defender allowed an opponent on running plays…1STR indicates amount of first downs defender allowed an opponent on passing plays…PEN indicates amount of penalties charged to the defender…TDR indicates touchdowns defender allowed on running plays… TDP indicates touchdowns defender allowed on passing plays…10+R indicates running plays for 10 yards or longer charged to the defender…20+R indicates running plays for 20 yards or longer charged to the defender…10+P indicates passing plays for 10 yards or longer charged to the defender…20+P indicates passing plays for 20 yards or longer charged to the defender…NP indicates total amount of negative plays charged to the defender (total from each category)…AVG indicates average of negative plays charged to the defender per game…PTS indicates points scored for each ranking category; players receive points based on their finish-5 points for first, 4 for second, 3 for third, 2 for fourth, 1 for fifth…TOT indicates that defender’s final ranking vs. the other four players listed.

READING BETWEEN THE LINES
Davis and Goldman lack big-play ability, but due to their adequate production, their mistakes are generally highlighted, as there are not enough big plays to compensate for their errors. Both of the down linemen need to be more responsive to the quarterback’s cadence, as their penalty issues are the result of bolting off the line too early. Since players at this position do not produce eye-opening stats, outside of Brown and Shelton, keeping their mistakes to a minimum is critical for any player, especially a nose guard.


POSITIVE PLAYS MADE BY THE DEFENDER
PLAYERGP TFLNG FUMPR PD3DS 4DSTDSR TDSPRZ NPAVG PTSTOT
BENNETT15 1503 0303 0311 0303 0005 04903.27 024
BROWN13 1805 0308 0109 0206 0118 07105.46 042
DAVIS13 1206 0105 0010 0104 0012 05103.92 033
GOLDMAN14 0904 0201 0104 0104 0006 03202.29 006
PHILLIPS13 0705 0100 0107 0003 0006 03002.31 015
SHELTON14 2312 0512 0022 0710 0725 12308.79 051
NOTES: TFL indicates tackles behind the line of scrimmage/lost yardage (combined solos and assists)…NG indicates times defender stopped an opponent for no gain on a rushing attempt…FUM indicates total of fumbles recovered/ caused…PR indicates times defender pressured the quarterback…PD indicates pass defended (break ups/interceptions)…3DS indicates total amount of third-down plays made (pass/run)… 4DS indicates total amount of fourth-down plays made (pass/run/punt return coverage)…TDSR indicates touchdown-saving tackles made vs. the run…TDSP indicates touchdown-saving tackles made vs. the pass…RZ indicates plays made inside the red zone…NP indicates total amount of negative plays charged to the defender (total from each category)…AVG indicates average of negative plays charged to the defender per game…PTS indicates points scored for each ranking category; players receive points based on their finish-5 points for first, 4 for second, 3 for third, 2 for fourth, 1 for fifth, 0 for sixth…TOT indicates that defender’s final ranking vs. the other four players listed.

READING BETWEEN THE LINES
In this category, you can see the “true” performance by the unheralded nose guards. Stopping the run, pressuring the pocket and freeing up teammates to make plays by occupying multiple blockers is the usual task for a player at this position. Brown, Shelton and Davis have been quite effective shutting down the offense in the end zone – that tell-tale sign comes from the high amount of third- and fourth-down plays they made and their success inside the red zone.


FINAL REPORT CARD
PLAYERGP ARRK APRK NPRK PPRK PTSRK
BENNETT, Michael15 086 193 0204 024 0313
BROWN, Malcom13 242 242 042 042 0562
DAVIS, Carl13 153 114 006 033 0295
GOLDMAN, Eddie14 105 114 015 006 0226
PHILLIPS, Jordan13 153 106 042 015 0304
SHELTON, Danny14 351 261 051 051 0711
AVERAGE13.7 17.8  16.8  02.7  02.5  39.8
NOTES: This chart lists the statistics compiled by each defensive lineman during their respective seasons…AR indicates points scored in the above Against the Run Comparison category…AP indicates points scored in the above Against the Pass Performance Chart category… NP indicates points scored in the above Negative Plays Charged category…PP indicates points scored in the above Positive Plays Charged category…PTS indicates total points scored from all of these categories…RK indicates final ranking, based on total points scored.

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