Danny Shelton to Browns: Full Draft-Pick Breakdown

Ryan McCrystal@@ryan_mccrystalFeatured ColumnistMay 1, 2015

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 30:  Danny Shelton of the Washington Huskies hugs NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being picked #12 overall by the Cleveland Browns during the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on April 30, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns were full of surprises last year, but the 2015 NFL draft starts out with a fairly predictable selection, as Danny Shelton was linked to the Browns in countless mock drafts throughout the entire predraft process.

Head coach Mike Pettine coached Haloti Ngata during his time as a defensive assistant in Baltimore, and general manager Ray Farmer was part of the Chiefs front office when the team selected Dontari Poe in the 2012 draft. So both of the team's top decision-makers have seen firsthand the type of impact a dominant nose tackle can have in the 3-4 defense. 

Shelton was the consensus top nose tackle in this class, and Farmer and Pettine likely view him as the best chance to be their version of Ngata and Poe. 

One of the first questions teams have when drafting a player of Shelton's size—he measured 6'2", 339 pounds at the combine—is whether he has the stamina to be an every-down lineman. 

According to Pro Football Focus, Shelton played nearly 900 snaps at nose tackle—the second most of any collegiate player at his position. 

Washington DT Danny Shelton played the second-most snaps of any DT in the nation this year with 874 #CFF

— Steve Palazzolo (@PFF_Steve) February 5, 2015

At times Shelton did look tired on the field, but the Browns have the depth at the position to actually cut his snaps when he enters the NFL, despite the fact that he'll be playing an extended schedule in the pros.

In 2014, the Browns' primary nose tackle, Ahtyba Rubin, averaged just 35 snaps per game, according to PFF. And the Browns clearly have other options to rotate in on the interior defensive line with Phil Taylor and Ishmaa'ily Kitchen.

It's worth noting that the Browns may still view Phil Taylor as their short-term starter at nose tackle, even with the addition of Shelton. But Taylor is set to become a free agent after the season, and the Browns presumably will let him walk now that Shelton is in the fold. 

If the Browns do still want to feature Taylor in a significant role, the team could take advantage of Shelton's impressive combination of size and athleticism and use him like the Ravens used Ngata early in his career. 

When Ngata first broke into the league, Kelly Gregg was entrenched at nose tackle, which allowed the team to shift Ngata outside to the 5-tech position when they lined up in 3-4 sets. 

So while Shelton certainly fits the profile of a nose tackle, Browns fans should expect the team to be creative with him. To put it in a more Browns-centric perspective, imagine Shelton as more of a Shaun Rogers-type versatile nose tackle than a Ted Washington-type space-eater.

During the peak of his Browns career, Rogers was moved all over the place by creative defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, and current coordinator Jim O'Neill now has that same luxury with Shelton.

Overall, it's tough to argue with this pick. It's a great blend of value and need and for once, Browns fans can feel confident their front office made the right choice on draft day.

Grade: A

Ryan McCrystal is an NFL draft Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.


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