It has been almost two weeks since the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft was completed. Rookie minicamps are underway, giving us a first look at the newest NFL players. With the first round picks seeing the field for the first time, who are they expected to replace on their respective rosters?
With the 12th overall selection, the Cleveland Browns took Danny Shelton, a defensive tackle out of Washington.
Weighing 339 lbs, Shelton is a perfect fit as a nose tackle in a 3-4 defense. For the Huskies, he had to move around the defensive line a bit, as the spread offenses of the Pac-12 and the rest of college football force defenses to spread out as well.
In Cleveland, he will take over the starting nose tackle spot, a position that has been held down by Phil Taylor for the last four years.
Like Shelton, Taylor was a first round pick (21st overall in 2011). However, he has been a bit of a disappointment, missing 20 games due to injuries and not playing nearly effective enough.
Last season, Cleveland had the worst run defense in the NFL, allowing 141.6 yards per game. In the other three years Taylor has been in Cleveland, the Browns have ranked 18th, 19th and 30th.
The key to stopping the run starts with the defensive line and in a 3-4 defense, the main responsibility of the nose tackle is to occupy more than one blocker, freeing up other defenders to make plays.
The Browns’ problems against the run deeper than just Taylor, but finding an upgrade over him definitely will help.
Shelton is a physical run defender who was born to play in the AFC North. When it comes to passing downs, he doesn’t have to leave the field, as he possesses good pass rushing ability for a nose tackle.
Taylor is in the last year of his contract and will see time as a rotational defensive lineman, but Shelton is going to be the starting nose tackle for Cleveland this year.