Detroit Lions: Danny Shelton is an upgrade at nose tackle

(Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images) /

Some consider Danny Shelton to be an underwhelming free agent signing for the Detroit Lions, but he will excel in the correct role.

Danny Shelton will replace Damon Harrison as the Detroit Lions starting nose tackle in 2020.  When Detroit Lions General Manager (GM) Bob Quinn signed Danny Shelton to a two-year $8-million deal, many gasped with displeasure knowing the Lions organization dipped their toe back into the New England waters to acquire another Bill Belichick cast away.

The Detroit Lions would undoubtedly be better off with a motivated Damon Harrison anchoring the middle of their defensive line but having the Harrison of last year; the struggling, perhaps unmotivated, disgruntled lineman isn’t a better option than Shelton.  We’ll take 100-percent effort from Shelton over a 60-percent Harrison any day of the week.

Shelton doesn’t have the upside Harrison possesses but can be a viable option on early downs stuffing the run.  Shelton is the prototypical nose tackle for Matt Patricia’s defense.  Shelton is quite stout standing 6-foot-2 and playing at 350-pounds.

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The Detroit Lions failed to generate any type of pass-rush last season, although Shelton won’t improve the defense in that aspect he will serve a purpose controlling the line of scrimmage and slowing the run between the tackles.

Having a massive interior defensive lineman clogging the middle of the opponent’s offensive line is a linebacker’s dream.  I often refer to Ray Lewis requesting the Baltimore Ravens to draft Haloti Ngata with the 12th overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft.  The Ravens obliged, and it prolonged Lewis’ career.

Having a space-eater in the middle of the defense not only prevents the offensive linemen from advancing to the second level of blocking quickly, but it also allows the linebackers to flow freely to the football.  Linebackers are born hunters if they can track a ball carrier without any resistance from an offensive lineman looking to blow them up at the second level or be lost in the ‘wash’ they’re able to do substantial damage.

That’s precisely what Shelton can do as a member of the Detroit Lions.  He will be on the football field on first and second down, and on third and short situations primarily focusing on stopping the run and allowing the Lions backers to roam freely.

If you are expected or hoping for a seven or eight sack season from Shelton in 2020, your expectations are sadly over the top; he’s not that type of player.

The Detroit Lions will look to rotate Nick Williams in to rush the passer on third downs and sure passing situations.

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Shelton earned himself a respectable 71.6 overall grade last season with the Patriots.  He’d go on to record three sacks, 18 total pressures, one fumble forced to go along with 57 total tackles.