Browns add DE Orchard, RB Johnson
BEREA, Ohio (AP) — As Danny Shelton was presented with his No. 71 jersey by the Browns, his mom stood to the side of the dais. Her eyes welled with tears, her emotions torn in two.
Oneone Shelton wore a button over her heart with No. 55, the jersey worn by her late son, Shennon, killed four years ago on Friday.
And as Danny beamed with pride on the first day of a new chapter in a life he once thought impossible, his mom grappled simultaneously with loss and love.
“It was painful because I don’t see my other son,” she said. “And this is his anniversary, so we were are here for Danny. Some of our family in Seattle are celebrating his anniversary today. When we go back we’ll go visit him. We’re proud to be here with him today.”
Shelton was introduced Friday by the Browns, who selected the outgoing and hulky Washington defensive tackle with the No. 12 overall pick in the NFL draft on Thursday night. Shelton’s selection was one of the more memorable in Chicago because when he came onstage, he hugged and lifted NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell off his feet.
“He was just excited, just like I was,” Shelton said of Goodell. “He was shocked at the same time but he was happy for me.”
Hours after he was taken by the Browns, who selected Florida State offensive lineman Cameron Erving with the No. 19 overall pick, Shelton was flown to Cleveland to officially begin his pro career. The 6-foot-2, 339-pound Shelton quickly won over Browns fans with his positive vibe and his eagerness to play for them.
“How’s the Dawg Pound?” he asked to open his welcoming news conference.
Four years ago, his brother was shot and killed following an argument and fight that quickly escalated in Auburn, Washington, the Shelton’s hometown. Shelton was 17, so badly shaken by the incident that he became withdrawn and nearly gave up football.
But Shelton matured, persevered and is now living a dream.
“It’s just crazy to think, because four years ago I would never see myself here,” he said. “It’s definitely a blessing.”
Not long after introducing Shelton and Erving, the Browns got back to building their team by selecting Utah defensive end Nate Orchard with the No. 51 overall pick. Orchard, who had 18 1/2 sacks last year, will shift to outside linebacker in Cleveland’s 3-4 scheme and should help a unit that recorded just 31 sacks in 2014.
A converted wide receiver, Orchard has a knack for getting to the QB.
“That is the head of the snake,” Orchard said.
Browns coach Mike Pettine said Orchard is the type of “hybrid” player the team covets.
“His college production just jumps out at you,” he said. “As you go through this process, sometimes it gets very complicated with the numbers and the statistics and the measurables. We have a saying, ‘The best predictor of future success is past success.’ This is a guy who has a knack. He can find a quarterback.”
Browns general manager Ray Farmer ignored playmakers in the first two rounds before selecting Miami running back Duke Johnson with the No. 77 overall pick. Johnson ran for 1,652 yards last season and finished as the Hurricanes career rushing leader despite just playing three seasons.
He’ll give the Browns backfield depth and could work into the rotation with Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell, who both showed promise as rookies last year.
“Definitely a guy I thought could run the football, catch the football, dynamic player, can return kicks, can catch punts,” Farmer said. “He’s got a complete skill set to affect our roster in multiple ways.”
Before Friday ended, the Browns made their second trade, acquiring the No. 96 pick from New England and selecting Washington State defensive tackle Xavier Cooper, who recorded 31 1/2 sacks in 36 career games.
The Browns will have five picks on Saturday.
Oneone Shelton said Danny, the second youngest of her four sons, was often in trouble during high school but she always thought he would turn out OK. He went to Washington, and with the support of the Huskies coaching staff, Shelton became a team leader and academic All-American.
“I’m so proud of him,” she said. “He’s a role model for our family.”
Shelton often thinks about his late brother, and although there have been many difficult moments since his passing, he’s sure Shennon is proud of him.
“It’s a time to celebrate,” he said. “I’m just glad that my mom and my uncle are here to celebrate it with me because it’s a hard time for my family. I definitely know that my brother’s smiling down on us, and I just can’t wait to go back and see my family and be with them.”