Skip to main content


Evaluating Danny Shelton's rookie season goes beyond the numbers

Anthony Weaver doesn't need the numbers to justify what he's seen from Danny Shelton throughout his rookie season.

The Browns defensive line coach saw enough out of Shelton in OTAs and the early part of training camp to know he could count on him as an integral member of his group. Shelton's been a starter since the first game and has seen the same amount of playing time week in and week out.

Through 10 games, Shelton has 20 tackles. It's been a sore subject of sorts with Shelton, who has expressed his frustration with not making the same kind of splash plays he made as a senior at the University of Washington, but it's not in the slightest for Weaver.

"It's not even a problem, he just has very high expectations of himself," Weaver said Wednesday. "He's a guy that wants to go out there and make every single play, and that's how you wish all those guys were. He has those expectations, and I'm definitely not going to lower them, but again, I'm pleased with where he's at to this point."

Weaver never played alongside Haloti Ngata in Baltimore -- he left for the Texans the same year Ngata was drafted -- but he understands the role Ngata played and how it compares to what Shelton is tasked with as a member of the Browns. Essentially, it's "a grunt position," Weaver said, that isn't privy to tangible statistics.

As a rookie, Ngata finished with 31 tackles and a sack. Cincinnati's Domata Peko, another player Weaver said played a similar role as Shelton has as a rookie, had 43 tackles and 2.5 sacks.

"Sometimes the numbers aren't there," Weaver said. "Those guys get a lot of recognition when you start winning … Those guys, particularly that nose guard position, they get credit when you win because they do a lot of the dirty work."

Weaver stressed Shelton's performance against the run has been "solid" even though the Browns sit at No. 32 of 32 teams in rush defense. On most plays, Shelton requires double-teams, and he's typically in on the play if he's not, Weaver said.

As much as the selection of Shelton with the No. 12 pick in this past year's draft centered on improving the Browns' run defense, it wasn't the end-all, be-all. Weaver referenced Miami's offseason acquisition of Pro Bowl defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh as a similar example. The Dolphins are just one spot ahead of the Browns in rush defense rankings.

"This game is so unique where you need all 11," Weaver said. "It's never one guy that's going to be a quick fix. It's going to take us all, coaches included."

Before the season, the Browns and Shelton both dismissed the concern from some analysts that he would not be able to thrive in the NFL as a three-down player. Because of the team's depth on the defensive line and emergence of fellow nose guard Jamie Meder, Shelton hasn't had to be one as a rookie.

That could change as soon as Nov. 30, as the status of veteran Randy Starks (knee) is up in the air heading into Cleveland's Monday night showdown with the Ravens. The absence of Starks would shake up the rotations and provide more opportunities for Shelton in pass-rushing situations, Weaver said.

"As high as your expectations are for Danny and the people outside their expectations are for Danny, they're even higher for himself. He wants to be a perennial Pro Bowler," Weaver said. "He wants to have sack numbers for a nose guard. He wants all those things and because he has that want to and that will and that desire to do big things and be great.

"The sky is the limit for him, and I look forward to watching his career progress."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content