With the 12th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns selected defensive lineman, Danny Shelton. Shelton was a monster at the University of Washington and had moderate to high NFL expectations. Browns fans held their collective breath in hopes that the front office would finally hit on a first-round draft pick. And then came the 2015 season, in which Shelton was less than impressive. It seemed like the greatest fears of Cleveland fans had come true; all signs pointed to Shelton becoming a bust. But then, something weird happened. Shelton completely turned his fortunes around in 2016. Even on an awful defense, Shelton began to shine. Now, many Browns fans now see a glimmer of hope for Shelton. In 2017, it’s time for him to really make the jump.
It’s Time for Danny Shelton to Make the Jump
When Danny Shelton came into the league, he measured in at 6’2, 339 pounds. However, he claims to have ended the 2015 season at about 365-370. While Shelton was a terrific run stopper at Washington, it turned out that his “space-eater” strategy wasn’t working at the professional level. Shelton had sound fundamentals, including his famous “swim move” technique, but he needed to get quicker on his feet. And again, 2016 brought a positive shift for Shelton. He came to minicamp for the 2016 Browns and measured in at 6’2, 335. After getting reintegrated into the system, Shelton immediately looked different. He was quicker, more mobile, and could get through the offensive line more efficiently. If Shelton continues to physically improve in 2017, he’ll be undeniably powerful while still staying quick on his feet.
Not only has Danny Shelton become more physically capable, but he’s also starting to simply exude confidence. Shelton’s physical improvements undoubtedly led to a mental edge last season, and this will likely continue into 2017. His overall improved play in 2016 also factors into the equation, with Shelton carrying as much momentum as ever into next season. Momentum is a funny thing in sports (just look at Super Bowl LI), and Shelton will be more than ready to come back in 2017. He’ll also have a massive chip on his shoulder.
The league as a whole isn’t expecting much from Shelton in 2017, coming off a 1-15 season with the Browns. But football players have a “prove everyone wrong” mentality, and Shelton is no different. Danny Shelton (and the Browns as a whole) will be looking to shock the world next season. Whether or not they actually will still remains to be seen, but it’s a nice thought for Browns fans to have when coming off a historically bad year.
New Coaching Staff
While coaches and coordinators might defy the Browns’ new motto of “consistency”, sometimes change is still necessary. Consistency simply for consistency’s sake defeats the entire purpose. And Cleveland’s former defensive coordinator Ray Horton is a prime example of a much-needed change. Horton was a failure in 2016, and head coach Hue Jackson knew that he needed to replace him. Jackson brought in Gregg Williams as Horton’s replacement, to the great benefit of Danny Shelton and the defense as a whole. Coach Williams uses strikingly aggressive defensive schemes, which will help Shelton immensely in 2017. In this year’s draft, the Browns will likely look to improve their front seven. Players like Emmanuel Ogbah and Jamie Meder will be a great help to take pressure off of Shelton as they both continue to improve. By 2019, Cleveland should actually have a pretty frightening front seven for opposing quarterbacks to look at.
Shelton’s Future Impact
Danny Shelton will be a force in 2017. Physical dominance, a mental edge, and a new coach will help Shelton to succeed. Additionally, Shelton has shown an incredible work ethic in practice, both at the college and pro level. His intensity in practice will give him a serious edge, and at some point, everything will just click. Shelton’s football IQ and work ethic will allow him to catapult himself to Pro Bowler status and become a downright scary defensive lineman. He’s primed and ready to make that jump to success, and that’s exactly what the Cleveland Browns need right now.