The Browns selected Washington nose tackle Danny Shelton with the 12th overall pick in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday night.
After their defense finished last in the league against the run in 2014, the Browns bolstered the middle of coach Mike Pettine's 3-4, hybrid scheme by adding the 6-foot-2, 339-pound Shelton.
MORE: Fan reaction to Cleveland Browns No. 12 pick Danny Shelton
The Browns entered the draft with a dire need at nose tackle after allowing veteran Ahtyba Rubin to walk in free agency in March. Phil Taylor can certainly play nose, too, but he's on the verge of entering the final season of his rookie contract and he had major knee surgery last year.
The following players were taken in the first 11 picks: Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay, No. 1), Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota (Tennessee, No. 2), defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. (Jacksonville, No. 3), Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper (Oakland, No. 4), Iowa offensive tackle Brandon Scherff (Washington, No. 5), Southern California defensive end Leonard Williams (New York Jets, No. 6), West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White (Chicago, No. 7), Clemson edge rusher Vic Beasley (Atlanta, No. 8), Miami offensive tackle Ereck Flowers (New York Giants, No. 9), Georgia running back Todd Gurley (St. Louis, No. 10) and Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes (Minnesota, No. 11).
Remarkably, no trades were made before the Browns went on the clock at No. 12.
Here is a breakdown of Shelton from NFLDraftScout.com analyst Dane Brugler's draft guide:
BACKGROUND: A four-star defensive tackle recruit out of high school, Shelton was intensely pursued by Oregon, UCLA and other west coast programs, but he decided to stay home and enroll at Washington. He played sparingly as a true freshman before earning the starting nose tackle job as a sophomore, recording 45 tackles and 4.0 tackles for loss in 2012. He started all 13 games in 2013 as a junior and finished with 59 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks, earning All-Pac 12 Honorable Mention honors. Shelton had his best season in 2014 as a senior, recording 93 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, 9.0 sacks and five fumble recoveries, earning First Team All-Pac 12 and All-American honors. He accepted his invitation to the 2015 Senior Bowl.
STRENGTHS: Girthy body type with meaty thighs/hips and natural thickness – built like a vending machine and plays often come to him…carries his weight well with functional range to make plays outside the hashes…balanced and plays light on his feet with coordinated body control and movement skills…active with stunts and shows smooth lateral quickness to avoid blocks and change directions well on the move…tree stump in the middle of the line of scrimmage – tough guy to move from his spot…powerful upper body with active hands and a strong punch to rip and sustain bull rush at the point of attack…heady backfield vision and ball awareness to quickly locate and recognize screens…good initial quickness to split doubles and attack gaps…highly active with a bull in a china shop mentality…terrific on-field motor for the position, moving up and down the line – played 900+ snaps in 2014…plays through pain – battled through a left shoulder injury in 2013 that required postseason surgery…above average production for the position with 208 career tackles over 40 starts – also blocked three kicks on special teams…smart on and off the field – three straight years Academic All-First Team honors…mature, but loose personality and has dealt with adversity in his past – older brother was shot and killed in front of him (May 2011).
WEAKNESSES: Has bad weight in his midsection and his conditioning needs monitored – played at 360 pounds in 2014…too upright off the snap and needs to play with more consistent knee bend and leverage – sloppy tendencies…powerful, but relies too much on his upper body strength and needs to develop his hand moves – convoluted pass rush plan…doesn’t generate consistent power from stagnant position and much better when he drops his hips and has upfield momentum…too reactionary and needs to consistently force the action, lacking twitch off the snap…needs to be a consistent finisher once he makes contact…too many frustration penalties on his résumé and needs to improve his discipline…wears himself out with his intensity and ends up taking plays off…
SUMMARY: A prospect of Samoan heritage, Shelton has a rare mix of quickness and power for the position, showing the range to make plays on the perimeter and the unyielding hustle to continue pursuit through the whistle. He requires double-teams due to his nimble feet and upper body strength to shock blockers, using his natural gifts well, although his arm/hand techniques are still in development. Shelton started every game at nose tackle the last three seasons, playing a large percentage of the Huskies’ defensive snaps, but is better suited for a timeshare role to sustain his intensity. He lined up everywhere on the line in college from the zero- to five-technique positions, but is ideally suited as a two-gapping nose tackle, who can fit a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme – not on the same level as Haloti Ngata as a prospect, but deserving of top-15 consideration in this draft class.
Meanwhile, the Browns are still searching for their quarterback of the future after all of the buzz about them possibly trading up for Mariota never materialized into an actual deal. After the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Winston No. 1 overall like most analysts expected, the Tennessee Titans kept the second pick and used it to secure Mariota.
The Browns still have another pick later in the first round, 19th overall, which they acquired in the draft last year from the Buffalo Bills by trading down from No. 4 to No. 9. The Browns later traded up to No. 8 and took cornerback Justin Gilbert, who struggled on and off the field as a rookie.