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Need to Know: Is Washington DT Shelton a good fit for the Redskins at No. 5?

Jan 26, 2015, 4:52 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Monday, January 26, 44 days before NFL free agency starts for the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL.

Question of the day

We’re changing up the format of Need to Know for the offseason. Every day I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

This morning’s question is from the Real Redskins Facebook page:


Allstair is referring to Washington nose tackle Danny Shelton, who most experts saw as the most impressive player at any position during the week of the Senior Bowl. He’s not just a nose tackle, although at 6-2, 342 he can plug the middle in the 3-4 just fine. Shelton could play tackle if the Redskins line up in a 4-3 as they will a significant percentage of the time in Joe Barry’s hybrid scheme.

The versatility is important because a player has to be a three-down player to justify being the fifth overall pick. He has moved up to No. 7 overall in the prospect rankings on and is likely to have a similar ranking when other sites are updated with their post-Senior Bowl rankings. That’s certainly close enough to the Redskins’ top pick in the five hole to raise the possibility that he will be the guy.

But the important thing to keep in mind is that Scot McCloughan doesn’t look at the CBS website or listen to Mel Kiper or Mike Mayock. I’ve already used this quote from McCloughan a few times here but it bears repeating. “I think game tape is the DNA,” he said at his introductory press conference.

He’s not going to be very impressed by what Shelton may have done at the Senior Bowl. The player will not rise or fall on McCloughan’s draft board during the combine. Most of Shelton’s resume is set in stone in McCloughan’s eyes.

“I always go back to the tape. I have to,” he said. “That’s the way I was taught. You’re going to see all of a sudden – Georgia is playing Alabama, it’s fourth quarter, it’s fourth and three, who wins on that line of scrimmage? That guard come off and get the play?”

Substitute Washington and Washington State for Georgia and Alabama and the nose tackle for “that guard” and you can see what McCloughan is looking for.

There also will be background checks and talks with former teammates and strength coaches and others who will be able to vouch for his character and work ethic. And McCloughan likely talked to him in Mobile and will one or two more times before draft day.

There also will be conversations and tape-watching sessions with Joe Barry and the new defensive line coach to make sure that Shelton will be a good fit for what they have in mind defensively. Then Shelton will be compared to other candidates for the fifth pick to see how he stacks up.

So there is a long way to go here. Right now Shelton looks like a player that the Redskins could use and he seems to be in the mix for the No. 5 pick. Should they trade back a few spots to a position later in the top 10, he would seem to be even a more attractive possibility. But we don’t know what is going on in McCloughan’s head and we probably won’t until they turn in the card on April 30.


—It’s been 29 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 230 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 24; NFL free agency starts 43; 2015 NFL Draft 94

If you have any questions about what’s going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I’m always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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In case you missed it

  1. abanig - Jan 26, 2015 at 5:23 AM

    He’s the best pick for the Redskins if Leonard Williams isn’t there which, he shouldn’t be.

    Taking a RT @ 5 just makes NO sense to me, and the Redskins should give Murphy another year to start before determining he can or can’t be a starter.

    I love Landon Collins but I don’t want to take him at 5 and if we trade back further than 8 w/ Atlanta, I fear we’ll miss out on Shelton, the best pass rushers and Collins. We’ll still get a good player, but we won’t get the best available player that we can if we trade back 10 spots.

    Shelton would be my choice to upgrade the DL which needs upgraded as much as anything on the team.

  2. sidepull - Jan 26, 2015 at 7:51 AM

    Agreed. I have been wanting the Redskins to get a real NT that can collapse the pocket. A wrecking ball type. It was crazy to just implement a 3-4 and never have a true nose. You can se the results. Hopefully that can be rectified. But as abanig said above that if some miracle were to happen and Williams landed on the Redskins D I would be very happy with that for sure.

  3. murphsman - Jan 26, 2015 at 8:16 AM

    Barry’s gonna run a hybrid scheme? How well is that gonna work? Wasn’t that part of the problem with Haz, that Washington didn’t have a true defensive identity? And wasn’t that the fans biggest complaint, that our players weren’t being used properly?

    • wonderfulfaison - Jan 26, 2015 at 8:37 AM

      I think the problem with Haz was a lack of in game defensive adjustments, among other things. Also, Barry intends to run a one gap scheme as opposed to the 2 gap scheme Haz ran.

      • murphsman - Jan 26, 2015 at 1:09 PM

        I don’t know what that gap scheme thing means, but thank you. And as always Rich, thanks for your insight on what other teams in the league do.

      • sidepull - Jan 26, 2015 at 6:18 PM

        I think the problem was they ditched a good D, a 4-3,that had players that fit the scheme for the most part. I contend that if Rak moves on he will do better if his hand gets in the dirt as a DE, what he should have been doing here. As well as all the DEs we have had tried to plug into a 3–4 role. It just didn’t seem very smart to plug in a 3–4 wout the right guys to make it work. Again, they never had a NT but they wanted to mimic the Steelers. They did a poor job and now you don’t think Shelton will be worth the 5? If he is BPA then that will be great. Just gonna have to be enthusiastic with what Scot does. Its pretty exciting having him evaluating the pick.

    • Rich Tandler - Jan 26, 2015 at 8:39 AM

      Few teams run a true 3-4.

      They should design the defense being guided by the fans’ complaints? Really?

      > > >

      • deepball1 - Jan 26, 2015 at 10:06 AM

        well Rich..why not run the defense guided by fans’ complaints? The Redskins don’t appear to be doing a very good job by running it on their own. Perhaps all of us fans know just a LITTLE bit more and can see just a LITTLE bit more from our seats….especially since we see a team that finishes last in the NFC East every single year….so tell us again how the Redskins seem to know so much more than the people who watch the games from our seats.

        • Jax4 - Jan 26, 2015 at 10:40 AM

          Wow, I don’t even know where to begin with this comment. It would be foolish to even consider ANYTHING the fans have to say about which direction the scheme goes. Why not just continue to play Madden and develop the scheme based on success there? Or, I know, how about busting out the old Strat-O-Matic and see what transpires and go with that. To even CONSIDER anything that the fans say on how to run a defense scheme would be the equivalent of Fonzie jumping the shark tank on Happy Days. To sot in the stands and make assumptions on what would work better is completely a crap shoot, and if that was the case, why even have a defense coordinator. How about just post a live survey on and have the fans vote weekly on what to do? SMH.

      • murphsman - Jan 26, 2015 at 1:16 PM

        I live in northeast PA, so I can only watch the Skins when they play Thursday or they play Philthydelphia or the Gnats, so I have to base most of my opinions on what people say on here. So am I saying they should act on what fans say? No. I’m saying fans see problems watching the front office might not from the sidelines.

        • Rich Tandler - Jan 26, 2015 at 2:17 PM

          You do realize that they tape the games and spend endless hours reviewing them, right? They don’t just look from the sidelines and move on?

          > > >

  4. renhoekk2 - Jan 26, 2015 at 8:33 AM

    If they trade down to the middle of the round maybe. Not at 5. A NT? Terrible value. At 5 you need a game changer. Best pass rush guy available. At best Shelton eats up two blockers and then you’re still left with Murphy trying to beat his man one on one. Maybe he takes a huge leap in development but it did not look like Murphy was a great pass rusher last season.

    • deepball1 - Jan 26, 2015 at 10:09 AM

      so what you are saying is that if Haloti Ngata was in this draft at number 5, then you would pass on him simply because he is a Defensive Lineman and doesn’t play a so called ‘SEXY” skill position?

      Football 101 classes are going to begin next month. I suggest you sign up for one.

      • renhoekk2 - Jan 26, 2015 at 10:54 AM

        Well it’s obvious Ozzie Newsome took the same Football 101 class as me. They took Ngata at 12 not in the top 5. They also already had two very good pass rushers on their roster in Terrell Suggs and Adalius Thomas. If your going to insult someone’s knowledge of the sport you should do some research and improve your own first.

      • Jax4 - Jan 26, 2015 at 9:47 PM

        Might want to take your own advice based on that earlier post….just sayin…

    • bangkokben - Jan 26, 2015 at 10:49 AM

      If anything in this article is true, he’d be perfect. My favorite quote: “The Ngata comparisons aren’t new for Shelton, who has drawn rave reviews for his strength and ability to clog running lanes in college. However, his ability to stay on the field instead of going to the sideline to rest when facing an up-tempo offense could separate Shelton from other nose tackles.”

      • Joe Greene - Jan 27, 2015 at 6:17 PM

        Wilfork was the #21 pick overall. Shelton should be around that same area.

    • Super MAN John - Jan 26, 2015 at 12:08 PM


  5. goback2rfk - Jan 26, 2015 at 10:53 AM

    Just take the best player available when the pick comes through or trade the damn pick. I do not think number 5 is a good spot for the Skins this year. Trade the pick.

  6. Joe Greene - Jan 27, 2015 at 3:42 AM

    A borderline 1st rounder off his game play and the idiot mock draft sites are bumping him up to the top 5-10 picks based off an all-star game practice week. It’s stunning that anyone pays attention to any of the draft “gurus” other than Mayock at this point, and even he gets caught up in the hype from time to time.

  7. Ken - Jan 27, 2015 at 7:27 AM

    If we keep Orakpo makes sense maybe but if Orakpo is not sticking Edge Rusher > than NT unless the NT is ranked significantly higher in the “Big Board” . Meaning I don’t see how they will pass on Gregory assuming the two QBs ,Williams and Cooper are gone AND there is no advantageous trade down offer. And yes I think Murphy can be a valuable effective asset but no matter how hard he works don’t see how he can aquire the explosiveness needed to be able to complement Kerrigan as the right side OLB.

  8. timwillhidetimwillhide - Jan 29, 2015 at 1:30 AM

    NT is the main piece you need in a 3-4 Defense. The NT clogs the middle so others have one on one match ups a good one gets pressure. This Kid actually had pretty good stats for a NT Archives

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