Run stuffing defensive tackle could be a steal if he stays in shape
This time last year Tyler Shelvin’s draft stock was about as high as could be. Maybe he was basking in the afterglow of LSU’s championship, but some draft pundits like Mel Kiper Jr. had Shelvin as a first round pick and one of the top defensive tackle prospects in the 2021 draft class.
Nowadays you can’t find Shelvin anywhere close to the first round on any mock draft. Shelvin was once thought of as maybe a top-25 overall player and his stock has dipped all the way to outside the top-100. Benjamin Robinson from Grinding the Mocks charted Shelvin’s descent down mock drafts over the past 10 months.
So when it comes to Tyler Shelvin which is it? Is he still that elite prospect from a year ago or will his decision to opt out knock him to day two or three of the draft? Let’s look closer.
Position: Defensive Tackle
Height: 6’2” 1/8
Arm Length: 33 5/8
Hand Size: 10 1/4
Broad Jump: 8’1”
Vertical Jump: 28.5
40-yard Dash: 5.45
2019 Stats: 39 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 quarterback hurry (15 games)
The most important number concerning Tyler Shelvin is his weight and it appears he’s done a good job maintaining it since opting out this past August. Maybe 350 is still a little heavy for some teams, but Shelvin was able to play all 15 games during LSU’s championship run at that weight. If anything I feel that speaks volumes about Shelvin’s work ethic that he was able to keep his body at a weight we’re used to seeing. Get him in a professional organization and you may even see him shed a few more pounds.
The thing about the draft is the further removed a prospect gets from their final game, the more warts scouts and coaches find. Shelvin hasn’t played a competitive game of football in 15 months and without any new tape put out since January 2020 the holes in his game are coming into focus.
Shelvin may be a great run stuffer but his pass rush borders on nonexistent. Pro Football Focus credited Shelvin with six quarterback hurries in 316 pass rushes. For whatever reason all his size and power doesn’t translate to making a quarterback bail out of the pocket. Football has evolved the past decade. The two biggest questions surrounding a team are do you have a quarterback and can your defensive front get after the opposing team’s QB. Shelvin never showed he can be that guy while at LSU and that was with Ed Orgeron and Pete Jenkins, two of the best defensive line coaches ever, as his position coach. If Orgeron and Jenkins couldn’t unlock it who can?
Now let’s focus on his strengths. If his weight and conditioning is in order there’s not a defensive tackle in the class more ready to take on double teams than Shelvin. He may not move the pocket but the pocket won’t move him either.
Defensive tackles don’t usually record a lot of stats, unless your name is Aaron Donald. The best nose tackles do the dirty work and open up gaps for blitzing linebackers and safeties to attack. Isn’t that exactly what Shelvin did in 2019 for guys like Patrick Queen and Jacoby Stevens? And when it comes to stuffing the run nobody does it better than Shelvin. Pro Football Focus gave him an 88.3 run defense grade in 2019, and I wouldn’t be surprised if his future team sees an immediate improvement stopping the run in 2021.
We of course want nothing but the best for all of our former Tigers but I’m really hoping Shelvin does well at the next level. The young man had to get both his weight and grades in order to be a contributor and he did. Personally I think that speaks to his character that he made the changes and didn’t let things spiral out of control.
Good luck Tyler Shelvin. And the Valley Shook is pulling for you.