Let's continue our 'Nine for No. 9' series today by focusing on a player who was talked about a great deal early in the draft process in connection with the New York Giants, but whose name has sort of faded into the background at the 2015 NFL Draft has drawn closer. That would be massive Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton.
The case for Shelton
There is no other way to put this -- the Giants' run defense absolutely stunk in 2014. They surrendered a league-worst 4.9 yards per carry and were 30th in rushing yards allowed per game at 135.1 The only thing that makes Tom Coughlin more agitated than watching his team get run on by opposing offenses is watching his own offense turn the ball over. What better way to fix the run the defense than by grabbing the draft's biggest, most-athletic, most run-stuffingest defensive tackle? Yes, I'm taking liberties with the English language. The 6-foot-2, 339-pound Shelton fits the description, though. In his 2015 NFL Draft Guide, Dane Brugler of CBS Sports says Shelton "has a rare mix of quickness and power for the position" and that he is ideally suited to be a two-gapping nose tackle in either a 4-3 or 3-4. Does Shelton fit next to emerging star Johnathan Hankins? Better question if you're the Giants -- would anything fit in between them? If the Giants, with new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, want to turn their pass rush loose they first have to defend the run and put teams in long-yardage situations. Drafting Shelton should help them do that.
In his prospect profile of Shelton, written back in February, 'Rap' made it obvious that he loves the idea of pairing Shelton and Hankins:
When you hear people talk about dancing elephants, Danny Shelton is the ideal. He is massive, powerful, and quicker than any human his size has any right to be. There just are not many of these guy walking the earth. Scouts use a variety of comparisons for Shelton: Vince Wilfork, Hiloti Ngata, Dontari Poe, John Hankins ... That is the kind of player that Shelton projects to be.
The case against Shelton
Well, if you draft Shelton then what did you sign Kenrick Ellis as a free agent for? Ellis is a 6-foot-5, 346-pound player who has one job -- stopping the run on early downs. If Hankins and Shelton are playing those downs, what does Ellis do? Is there enough value to select Shelton at No. 9, since defensive tackles are generally rotational players? If you want to wait until later to select a defensive tackle, would players like Carl Davis, Grady Jarrett, Michael Bennett or Xavier Cooper be fits? It's more and more a passing league, so do you spend the ninth overall pick on a guy who will primarily be used to stop the run?