Futures: Washington DT Danny Shelton

Building things the right way with this immovable foundation. Photo by Keith Allison.
Ngata is big, agile, and quick. I can’t say Danny Shelton meets all three criteria for the NFL. Photo by Keith Allison.

Shelton comps to Dontari Poe and Haloti Ngata? Waldman explores some of the data and poetry involved and doesn’t see it. 

By Matt Waldman

Scouts have a love-hate relationship with player comparisons. Get them right and your audience gains a true understanding of a particular player. Get them wrong and it’s like playing the wrong note at the worst time.

It’s not that cut-and-dried. Not all good comparisons are literal “a equals b” parallels. Some correlations have a heavy dose of poetry, which is often important but problematic without effective communication.

It means when I Tweet that Nebraska receiver Kenny Bell is in the spectrum of Donald Driver and Marvin Jones with a dose of Hines Ward and a dash of Brandon Lloyd, I better explain that his build, route-running, speed, and willingness to mix it up in tight coverage is stylistically similar to Driver and Jones, but his physicality and skill after the catch have some Ward-like mannerisms, and there’s also a flair to adjust to the ball that echoes Lloyd. If I don’t use two or three Tweets to explain this, at least one engineer in the crowd will calmly explain to me that Bell’s speed and dimensions do not match Ward’s and therefore my comparison is not valid.

Poetry, man… poetry…

It’s a reminder I sometimes need. However, when I see a comparison between Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton and pros like Haloti Ngata and Dontari Poe, I’m not hearing the poetry. I can see it, but I’m not hearing it and I need to hear it to feel it.

It could be my inexperience in evaluating players at the line of scrimmage. Projection is an important facet of this craft. However, if there’s one position that the draft community can over-project, it’s defensive tackle.

I think that’s what’s happening with Shelton. The best way to find out is to look at Shelton alongside Ngata and Poe. That’s today’s Futures in a nutshell. Read the rest at Football Outsiders.

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