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2020 NFL Draft

Returning for senior year pivotal for Browns' picks Danny Shelton, Cameron Erving

Cameron Erving heard the whispers shortly after he brushed confetti from his face.

Erving was one of the main pieces of Florida State's 2013 BCS National Championship team, holding down left tackle well enough to earn numerous individual conference honors over a two-season stretch. He'd proven his worth, starting back-to-back seasons at one of the most important spots on an offensive line for one of college football's perennial programs.

The advice from those around him after his junior season had a familiar theme: Cash in now.

Erving, though, was not among the record 98 underclassmen who declared for the 2014 NFL Draft. Neither was Washington defensive lineman Danny Shelton, who sought a grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Board and ultimately decided to stick with the Huskies for one more season.

Both wouldn't be where they are today, first-round picks of the Cleveland Browns, without that extra year at the collegiate level. Both maximized their opportunities to impress and tackled obstacles they didn't even fathom as juniors who likely would have been second- or third-day selections in 2014.

Shelton, the Browns' 12th overall selection in Thursday's first round, received a fourth-round grade from the advisory board after an up-and-down season that saw him play through the pain of an injured shoulder. He opted to return to Washington even though the coach who recruited him, Steve Sarkisian, left for USC. He bonded quickly with the coaches on Chris Petersen's staff, found inspiration from the teammates on a defense that produced three first-round picks Thursday and posted a whopping 93 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks.

Shelton said he didn't realize he was first-round material until the season came to a close.

"I tried to stay out of the media and tried to stay out of projections and keep my mind leveled and everything and just wait for the blessing," Shelton said. "It's a blessing to be here and be able to play with great teammates."

Erving benefitted from the extra season not because it gave him more opportunities to stuff some of the ACC's top pass rushers, but because it provided a platform for him to show off his diverse skill set.

With the Seminoles struggling to run the ball, longtime offensive line coach Rick Trickett approached Erving about a move to center, a position he'd never played before in his entire career. It was the second of two position switches for Erving during his Florida State career, as he spent his first two seasons with the program as a defensive tackle.

Erving said he did whatever it took to put his team in the best position to win. The impact, though, was just as strong on his personal aspirations, as the versatility he displayed made him one of the draft's most coveted offensive linemen. The Browns, like most teams, believe he's capable of playing all five spots on the offensive line.

Had that ability been unearthed in the NFL rather than college, Erving might still be waiting for that phone call.

"It was one of the best things that could have happened to my career just because as an offensive lineman, there's probably seven guys that travel every week so they're all plug-and-play players at certain positions," Erving said. "Me being able to play more than one position is certainly key."

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