Detroit Lions: Danny Shelton the perfect replacement for Damon Harrison

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

It seems as though Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia can’t help themselves when it comes to acquiring New England’s castaway players.

After signing nose tackle Danny Shelton and trading for Duron Harmon yesterday, the number of former New England Patriots currently rostered by the Detroit Lions settles in at six.  Social media has begun to mock the Lions referring to the organization as the ‘Detroit Patriots.’

Last season the Lions rostered three former Patriots, Danny Amendola, Tavon Wilson, Justin Coleman, and Trey Flowers. So far, in addition to Shelton and Harmon, the Detroit Lions have also added former pro bowl linebacker, Jamie Collins.

The Lions have found their replacement for Damon Harrison.  Danny Shelton is one of the players we had mentioned as a potential target this offseason as the organization continues to rebuild its defensive line.  He’s signed a two-year $8 million deal. Unlike Nick Williams, who plays near or a touch below 300 pounds, Shelton owns the perfect nose tackle frame for Patricia’s defensive scheme.

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Shelton plays around 340 pounds, the ideal nose tackle to defend the run.  The problem last season was that theory failed to come to fruition.  Shelton was average at defending the run and an inkling better as an interior pass rusher.

The Lions passed on the likes of D.J. Reader and Javon Hargrave (both ranked in the top-ten at their position), who we had as potential free-agent targets to land Shelton for a much lower price.  Don’t forget the saying ‘you get what you pay for’ when reflecting on this deal once the NFL season begins.

According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Shelton ranked as the league’s 39th best interior lineman.  That’s something that won’t impress many people.  The ranking supports precisely how many of us feel.  Shelton isn’t an every-down defensive lineman; he’s nothing more than an early-down, rotational part of the defensive line.  My biggest issue isn’t bringing in Shelton; it’s the lack of depth behind him.  At this point, I have no faith in Williams’ capabilities.  Detroit is Williams’ fifth organization as he enters into his sixth season.

After passing on more complete interior linemen in free agency, players that can play three downs, maybe the Lions will be targeting an interior lineman early at the NFL Draft.

At this point, we can look to Shelton and Collins as Bob Quinn’s best offseason additions.  We should expect both to play a significant role within the Lions defense next season.  Although Shelton is expected to be a rotational lineman, he should still play a large part in stabilizing Detroit’s defensive front seven next year.

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Last season with the Patriots, Shelton combined for 57 tackles, he also created 18 total pressures.  He earned himself an overall grade of 71.6, which included a 67.4 rating defending the run along with 73.5 as a pass rusher, according to PFF.  It’s a good signing that checks the box of a need but not a great signing for the Lions.