Summary: There is no substitute for size and speed in the NFL. Defenses are always looking to have an advantage of size, speed and physicality at the point of attack. There are only so many players who possess the combination that Shelton has, and that makes him a top commodity in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Shelton broke into the Huskies’ lineup in 2012 and recorded 45 tackles, .5 sacks and four tackles for a loss. He was an All-Pac-12 honorable mention that season. Shelton turned in 59 tackles with 3.5 tackles for a loss and two sacks in 2013. Shelton played his best football in 2014. To start the 2014 season, the senior dominated weak competition as he had six sacks in the first two games against Hawaii and Eastern Washington. Shelton battled hard and was disruptive against Stanford, Oregon, and UCLA. Besides his nine sacks, he notched 87 tackles with 16.5 tackles for a loss and two fumble recoveries in 2014.
Shelton then had a tremendous Senior Bowl. He was bulldozer at the point of attack who ran over guards and centers. Shelton was superb in the pass-rushing one-on-ones and had his way with the offensive linemen. The run-scrimmage offensive linemen couldn’t move him, and he ate up double-teams while holding his ground. It was an excellent week for Shelton that really helped his draft stock.
While Shelton impressed teams on the field, he did equally well off of it. Sources told WalterFootball.com that Shelton has seen some hard times off the field, but he really impressed them with his character and response to the trials he went through. They feel that from a character and work ethic perspective, Shelton is one of the standouts of the 2015 NFL Draft.
For the NFL, Shelton is a big-time presence in the middle of the line. He stuffs runs at the point of attack and can get in on run plays outside of his gap. Shelton is very effective at eating up double-teams to free up linebackers and pass-rushers. He uses his power and speed to collapse the pocket and put pressure on the quarterback. Shelton has the strength to shed blocks and the burst to close on the signal-caller. He probably won’t produce huge sack numbers in the NFL, but he can push in the pocket to prevent quarterbacks from stepping up. That will help his edge rushers to be more effective.
Shelton looks like a top-20 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and could easily go in the top 10.
Player Comparison: Casey Hampton. Hampton had a great career with the Steelers after being the 19th-overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft out of Texas. Hampton (6-1, 325) was a run-stuffer and disruptor in the middle of Pittsburgh’s 3-4 defense. Shelton is very similar except being a little larger. Hampton was a five-time Pro Bowler while winning two Super Bowls with the Steelers. Shelton could be a similar player in the NFL and end up being one of the top nose tackles in the league.
NFL Matches: Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, San Francisco, Miami, Green Bay, Tampa Bay
Given the demand for interior defensive linemen in the NFL, there shouldn’t be any shortage of teams hoping to land Shelton in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. The highest spot Shelton could potentially hope to land would be with Chicago at the seventh-overall pick. The Bears could use a nose tackle for Vic Fangio’s 3-4 set, plus John Fox has used big defensive tackles in his 4-3 as well. Shelton makes sense for the Bears and they interviewed him in Mobile.
The Browns met with Shelton at the Senior Bowl, and he could be a target for Cleveland. Shelton would be perfect in the middle of the Browns’ 3-4 defense and fits how they wants to build up the talent on their lines. Shelton could be a fit for Cleveland with its selection at pick No. 12, plus he probably won’t make it to the organization’s other first-round selection, pick No. 19.
San Francisco might consider some defensive line help given the age of Justin Smith. If the 49ers takes Shelton, they could move Quinton Dial to end as a potential replacement for Smith.
At the Senior Bowl, Shelton told WalterFootball.com that he met with the Texans. It doesn’t look like a great fit considering Houston took Louis Nix last year, but Houston also is strict about taking the best talent available, and Shelton could be that if he’s on the board when the Texans pick.
Miami could consider some interior defensive tackle help as Jared Odrick is entering free agency. The Dolphins also met with Shelton at the Senior Bowl.
Lastly, the Packers and Buccaneers met with Shelton in Mobile. Green Bay could consider Shelton as a replacement for B.J. Raji. The Packers would be a great fit for Shelton, but they would have to trade up significantly to get him, which doesn’t fit with Ted Thompson’s stance in the first round. For Tampa Bay, Shelton would be a superb nose tackle next to Gerald McCoy, but the Bucs would aslo have to make a significant move up – from the second round back into the first – to land him.
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