Position: Defensive Tackle
For being 343 pounds Shelton is a remarkable athlete in terms of his quickness chasing down ballcarriers down the LOS and in his agility to maneuver around blockers. Shelton throws his body around like a much smaller person and showcases tremendous body control (In the ’13 UCLA tape Shelton dove over a RB in traffic, barrel-rolled, and popped up with fluidity that is rare for anyone close to his size). His extensive wrestling background shows up on tape. He has tremendous balance and coordination to be able to fire both his upper body (locking out) and his lower body (holding ground at POA, firing feet after contact) in unison while maintaining an incredibly strong base. This enables him to be nearly immovable at the POA while displaying the ability to line up as a 3 technique, cross face, get around blockers and move the QB off his spot.
Section Grade: 6.9
Pride / Quit
Shelton displays nastiness and immense physicality in the trenches on a consistent basis. In the 6 tapes I studied he often demonstrated the ability to overpower and bully OL. His production at Washington has been exceptional, particularly in 2014 in which he posted an incredible 93 total tackles. He has consistently gotten better each year on the team with improvements in his numbers each year as well. Shelton plays with very good, not great effort as the ’13 Oregon tape speaks to this. In this tape he looked sluggish and whether that was due to an unannounced injury or lack of desire is unknown. The other 5 tapes he constantly and impressively pursued backside and chased ballcarriers down the LOS and the field. He does have a tendency to stand up on contact and not fire his hands which appears to be laziness. Keep in mind this is an exception, not the norm with Danny.
Section Grade: 6.8
Learn / Retain
Instinct / Reaction
Shelton displays impressive versatility on the field as he lined up as a 0, 1, and 3 technique in every game I studied. Off the field Shelton was the only player in the nation to be named first-team All-America as well as first-team Academic All-American (was also first-team Academic All-American in 2013). Danny plays with excellent discipline and focus in his assignments as he routinely dominates in 1on1s and also continues to play hard even when his team is up big. In the ’13 Colorado tape Washington was up 45-7 in the 3rd and Shelton was still playing with a lot of effort.
Section Grade: 6.8
Strength / Explosion
The only reason I’m not giving Shelton a perfect grade for body type is due to the weigh-in at the Senior Bowl in which I saw extremely valgus knees. This is a case of his knees caving in and has a direct relation with ACL injuries. It can be corrected with lengthening/stretching certain muscles but it gave me pause that Shelton’s body will be susceptible to a knee injury in his career. Aside from this observation, Shelton’s sheer size/girth is ideal for a NT or 1 technique DT. He is thick throughout his upper and lower halves with a huge base, average arm length (3168), and big (1000), powerful hands. Shelton’s best trait is his immense strength. When he maintains leverage he possesses extraordinary functional strength in his chest/arms/hands to bend back OL and push/pull with ease, essentially controlling them at will. He has a devastating club move and has the ability to rag doll OL. When he uses momentum off the snap he has the ability to drive back/jolt OL into the backfield, sometimes even with one arm (see the ’13 UCLA tape).
Section Grade: 7.5
6.5 Read & React
Shelton is consistently effective at reading the ball when engaged and gets off blocks to trip up or bring down passing ballcarriers
7 Initial Quicks
Shelton displays excellent foot fire on and around blocks using a powerful rip & rip/swim
9 Play Strength
Earns the term immovable object in the middle. Superb functional strength in his hips to anchor vs the run while possessing the upper body power/strength to lockout and control blockers, even with one arm at times
7.5 Use of Hands
While Shelton needs to become more consistently active with his hands, they are overwhelmingly powerful and he uses them to control/jolt OL regularly. Uses an impressive push/pull technique along with a very strong grip and consistently connects with his hands center-mass on the breastplate of blockers
8.5 Shed Blockers
Shelton sheds blocks effortlessly and with consistency. Has the strength and power to disengage himself at will, just needs to do it more consistently
7 Run at Him
Has the strength, power, girth, and base to withstand double teams and single blocks with ease. However his consistency is concerning as he will occasionally catch blockers rather than attack and stand up late in games. His snap count is extremely high at UW but is something to keep in mind
7.5 Pursuit / Range
Has a very high motor when in pursuit backside, particularly down the LOS where he makes several tackles every game I studied. Has the short-area quicks to showcase excellent range for his size and coordination to not cross his feet down the LOS
Very good technique/strength/power to wrap up consistently & make solo tackles while meeting ballcarriers under control and w/a ton of force. Stays square on contact
7 Closing Burst
Closes on the QB & ballcarriers very quickly/aggressively and with excellent coordination to maintain his balance in pursuit
7.5 Power Rush
Has the strength and power to jolt OL into the backfield with ease. Possesses a devastating bull rush and club move
6 Speed Rush
Despite his size he has an effective outside-in rip & rip/swim move. Has the agility/initial quicks to penetrate gaps
Doesn’t make repeated technical errors aside from not always firing his hands out of his stance. Aside from the ’13 Oregon tape (where this happened throughout the game) it is rarely seen except occasionally at the end of games after lots of snaps
Section Grade: 7.3
7 INITIAL QKS
6.5 PLAY SPEED
9 PLAY STR
Section Grade: 7.5
Overall Grade: D 7.1
Huge frame with enormous lower half & great sand. Very thick throughout entire body. Extensive wrestling background as well as HS state champion at the shot put. Immense functional strength to withhold his position at the POA and equal power to control OL with a devastating lockout & push/pull technique. Has impressive agility and quickness off the ball to penetrate gaps, split double teams, and get around blockers. Excels chasing backside and down the LOS using a high motor and excellent coordination to produce lots of tackles in pursuit. Has a strong rip and club move to beat blockers. Scheme versatile.
Stamina is a question late in games as he rarely ever comes off the field. This leads to a tendency to get too high at the POA and catch blocks rather than initiate contact, resulting in his shoulders getting turned on double teams. Doesn’t generate a ton of initial explosion at the POA (not exceptionally sudden) but with momentum creates overwhelming power.
Shelton (senior) began his career at Washington by appearing in all 13 games as a true freshman, making one start. The next three seasons he didn’t miss a start and racked up 41 career starts finishing with 208 total tackles, 111 solo, 24 TFL, 5 PBUs, 7 fumble recoveries, 3 blocked kicks, and 11.5 sacks. In 2014 Shelton became the first Husky since 1991 to earn first-team Academic All-American and was also named first-team All-American (only player in the nation to accomplish both). Shelton’s 2014 season was stellar: 93 total tackles, 53 solo, 16.5 TFL, 5 fumble recoveries, and 9 sacks.
Shelton possesses a very thick and enormous body type with an especially thick lower half. Has elite level sand to withhold his position at the POA and anchor in the run game. Shelton displays exceptional functional strength and hand placement to control OL using a powerful push/pull technique. I saw him drive back an OL 7 yards into the backfield using one arm in the ’13 UCLA tape. He regularly bends OL backwards with heavy mitts and tremendous strength. Shows the agility and quickness in nearly every tape I saw to line up in a 1 or 3 tech. and penetrate the gaps/split double teams or use a rip or a (devastating) club to beat blockers to the QB. Shelton rarely ever comes off the field and will occasionally stand up at the POA late in games and let OL get into his body (see ’13 Oregon tape for best example of this). When his stamina fades he tends to get lazy in his foot fire on contact and will catch OL & belly rub rather than be the aggressor. Shelton in the running game pursues ballcarriers down the LOS with rare coordination and agility, often creating violent collisions from the backside. He also is a very sound tackler often wrapping up and bringing down ballcarriers by himself. Shelton posted five 10+ tackle games in his career (three in ’14) as well as eight 8+ tackle games (six in ’14). He also demonstrates the ability to halt pulling OL’s momentum and clog up the running lanes consistently. One of the more impressive qualities about Shelton is his disregard for his body and balance/coordination as he will scrape, claw, and dive to make tackles while often bouncing up with tremendous fluidity. His wrestling background and sheer athleticism for his size is evident on the tape. Shelton is a rare talent with the versatility to play in virtually any scheme. His best fit is either as a 0 technique in the 3-4 or as a 1 tech. in the 4-3 with the ability to kick further out and beat his man as a 3 technique.
Value – Top 15
Projection – Top 8
Player Comp – Vince Wilfork