With four free agents on the interior of the defensive line, an overhaul is coming. Danny Shelton could fill the role of a massive run stopper the Los Angeles Chargers have been missing.
Three years ago, the Chargers found what they believed to be a free agency steal in run-stuffer Brandon Mebane.
While Mebane has probably lived up to his contract, especially considering his presence as a leader and veteran mentor, he did not transform the Chargers’ defensive front as much as the team and fans hoped.
Mebane had a decent amount of tackles last season for the number of games he played, but he is no longer the run-stuffing force that he once was. Last year, the Chargers run defense performed better without Mebane in the lineup, allowing 87.4 yards per game without him as opposed to a 105.8 yards per game in the season as a whole.
Thus, it is likely time for the Chargers to move on to a new (or add another if Mebane will return on a pay cut) run-stopper in the middle. A good candidate for that job is nose tackle Danny Shelton. Below are two reasons to sign Shelton as well as one reason for caution.
The price of Shelton’s contract is likely to be extremely affordable for a former first-round draft pick at the age of 25.
Last year, the New England Patriots traded a third-round pick to the Cleveland Browns for Shelton and a fifth-round pick. Despite this investment, he was used on only 31 percent of the team’s defensive snaps, according to Pro Football Reference.
Furthermore, the Patriots declined Shelton’s fifth-year option, demonstrating their valuation of him is not very high.
A player with limited tape from the past year is not likely to fetch a great free-agent price. This could make it easy for Tom Telesco to swoop in and offer a one or two-year prove-it deal to Shelton that would be a low-risk bargain for the “Coupon God”.
However, there is clearly a reason why Shelton is a bargain.
Based on PFF grades, Shelton’s career has been as consistent as the direction of the wind in Chicago. PFF says that Shelton has alternated between a grade above or below 75 every year of his career thus far.
This inconsistency has also been an issue during seasons. This past year, Shelton was a healthy scratch for two games in a row for the New England Patriots. However, he ended the year strong and was lauded for his performance in the Super Bowl, receiving the NFL Way to Play Award for his consistent technique and performance that week.
One explanation for his inconsistency is the misuse of his skill set. Shelton should not be seen as an every down player (as the Browns saw when they drafted him), but rather as a stellar rotational piece. Whoever thought putting him in coverage was a good idea has a rather strange form of humor.
Browns need to work with Danny Shelton on his drop covering dragging TE's. I can't help but laugh. I'm sure this is why we drafted Shelton. "Scheme to your players strengths," I hear. pic.twitter.com/t6706MZkI0
— Jake Burns (@jake_burns18) December 18, 2017
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If he is looked at as only a great run-stopper, the Chargers could find a steal of a player in Shelton.
Look no further than his Super Bowl game tape to see his abilities. Shelton had two tackles and a key tackle of Todd Gurley in the backfield to shut a drive down. He can be a game-changing force when used on early running downs to create second and third-and-longs.
Even though this draft class is deep at the position, Telesco should look into signing a contract with Shelton.
Do you think Danny Shelton would be a good addition at a cheap price? Let me know if the comments below.