The Cleveland Browns selected Danny Shelton with the 12th pick in the first round of the NFL draft. UW had three first-rounders for the first time in program history.
The Cleveland Browns selected Danny Shelton with the 12th pick in the first round of the NFL draft Thursday night, making the Washington All-American nose tackle the highest-drafted defensive player from UW since Steve Emtman went first overall in 1992.
Shelton, wearing formal Samoan clothing to honor his heritage, attended the draft in Chicago and gave NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a bear hug on stage after the selection was announced.
“It means everything to the people who are here with me right now, to the people who are watching back home in Washington, Samoa, Australia, California. … It’s crazy to think that I finally made it,” Shelton said in an ESPN interview.
Shelton’s selection comes one day before the four-year anniversary of the death of his older brother Shennon in a shooting in Auburn. Shelton wore a button featuring a picture of Shennon on his left chest at the draft.
“I know my brother’s watching from up above,” he said.
Last fall, Shelton, at 6-feet-2 and 340 pounds, had one of the most productive seasons every by a UW defensive lineman. The Auburn High School product had 93 total tackles in his final season at UW, including 16.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks, earning first-team All-America honors.
He also earned first-team academic All-America honors, the first Husky so honored since 1991. He was the only player in the nation in 2014 to earn All-America honors on the field and in the classroom.
“Obviously a big kid with size,” Browns general manager Ray Farmer told reporters. “Here’s a young man who played upwards of 90 to 100 snaps out there in the PAC-12. He showed some ability to rush the passer, can play lateral and down the line of scrimmage. Definitely is a guy who I like to refer to as a guy who requires four hands, where he’s going to require more than one guy to pay attention to him. I love his temperament. I love how he played. I love that this kid is a smart kid, high GPA – high school and college. The guy is a football player. We’re excited about the fact that we’re going to add a guy that helps us solidify the middle of our defense and make us better up front.”
Shelton, Shaq Thompson and Hau’oli Kikaha last season became the first trio in UW history to all earn first-team All-America honors from The Associated Press.