The minute LSU Tigers Tyler Shelvin declared for the NFL Draft, after opting out of the 2020 college football season, I jumped at the opportunity to write about him. He is the breed of football player I most enjoy, a defensive lineman, and in particular, a nose tackle type, that has a little bit of wiggle in his giant frame, while still packing a massive punch and remaining the heaviest of anchors against the run. With the first-round hype surrounding Shelvin, it was time to finally put him under the microscope.
Tyler Shelvin NFL Draft value based on traits
Burst and agility
He isn’t the nimble athlete in the mold of a Vita Vea, or even of a Leki Fotu. He’s much more the sturdy wall that Danny Shelton was instead. However, when he’s given the freedom of movement from the staff to try and win through the shoulder of a center, he’s displayed an ability to threaten the pocket by crossing the blocker’s face and winning with an initial club and rip.
What separated guys like Vea from the pack of other abnormally large humans (there were a few things) was his ability to plant and drive the opposite direction to follow and tackle a back-breaking away from him. That is something that the young LSU nose tackle has shown on occasion, but without consistency or the amount of awe you got with Vea or Fotu.
The more unfortunate part about this particular subsection of traits was his inability to get off the ball. The one thing that we could all get excited about with Clemson’s Dexter Lawrence coming out was that straight line athleticism. There were very few instances on tape where Shelvin took the fight to the center or guard and bubbled them back immediately.
There were far too many instances of Shelvin being far too late out of his stance on the snap for somebody that lines up directly over the football. A young man of his stature and reputation should force struggles for a shotgun-snapping center, but that was not present.
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We’re back in the black, baby! If there is one thing that Shelvin can boast, it’s that he has an anchor that’s practically unmatched in recent memory. He is an immovable object. Well, he’s the immovable object until he meets the unstoppable force that is Alabama’s Deonte Brown.
He’s very good near the goal line. One thing you can’t take away from the 6-foot-3, 346-pound defensive tackle is his pad level. He consistently plays with terrific pad level, all the while never getting so far over his skis that he tumbles forward like an upturned vase. The young man is a rock, and as a run defender who will consistently be asked to eat space defensively, there isn’t much more a coaching staff can ask for.
Pass rush ability
This is where Shelvin’s stock takes a tumble down the mountain. Unfortunately, he offers next to nothing as a pass rusher. On top of not being the bursty big man that can surprise the offensive lineman on the opposite him, his hand usage is primitive at best, and nonexistent at worst. If he doesn’t immediately win at the snap, the rep is going to a stand-up stalemate with the quickness of a mother racing toward her toddler that’s about to fall off the swing set.
But the most unfortunate part is that not only is he not a nuanced rusher with sophisticated hand usage, but he isn’t even the nose tackle type that will collapse the pocket by converting speed to power. A man that large should consistently be bubbling back the center or guard at the snap of the ball and collapsing the pocket up the middle. But that is not what Shelvin does. He’ll need to improve drastically as a pass rusher if he ever wants to see the field in obvious passing situations at the next level.
Where should we expect him to go in the draft?
Shelvin won’t go in the first round. That would, to put it bluntly, be surprising and bad. There’s no argument that Shelvin isn’t a good football player. He’s a stone wall run defender that can defend the A gaps against the run with the best of the best. But that’s it.
The hype was always a bit surprising considering he never jumped off the screen while watching either of his two defensive line comrades in Rashard Lawrence and K’Lavon Chaisson, or either of the two linebackers or any of the five defensive backs studied before him.
However, I ride and die for the nose tackle more than most. But this particular nose simply has no real value as a pass rusher, and although he is a good run defender, he’s not a complete menace against the run, mostly because he struggles to disengage from blocks quick enough to finish the play. Don’t expect to see him chase plays down outside the hashes too often, either. He stays in his bubble.
They type of player Shelvin is doesn’t go before the third round too often.