It’s early, but NFL Draft prognosticators are already at work opining about the 2021 Draft. USA Today’s Luke Easterling has tabbed LSU stud Tyler Shelvin for the New England Patriots. Shelvin has a body type similar to a young Vince Wilfork, and he has played a similar role in helping to push the LSU Tigers to the national championship this past season.
Shelvin is listed at 6’3″ 325 pounds, which is just a shade taller and heavier than Wilfork’s listed weight of 325, which was likely inaccurate later in his career.
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In the mock draft, Easterling predictably has Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence set as the top pick with other stars such as Justin Fields of Ohio State, and LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase to follow. To locate the Patriots’ selection, you have to make your way down to the 25th projected selection where Easterling has the Patriots picking.
Based on that draft slot, it sounds like Easterling has the Patriots making the playoffs, but with a modest 9-7 or 10-6 record, and being bounced from the postseason relatively early.
Shelvin played as a freshman in 2018, and he compiled 1.5 sacks along with nine total tackles. Falling more into what his specialty figures to be in the NFL as a nose tackle in a 3-4 defense, Shelvin grew exponentially as a sophomore.
In 2019 as an anchor on the Tigers’ defensive line, Shelvin had 39 tackles and two passes defended. He didn’t record a sack, but that’s not a big deal for a player of his archetype. His primary job is to clog up inside running lanes, to absorb two offensive lineman to provide penetration lanes for the second and third levels of his defensive teammates. In passing situations, the push he can produce up the middle can not only make quarterbacks uncomfortable, but it can also allow edge rushers to go one-on-one with tackles and sometimes tight ends.
In the SEC, and certainly in the NFL, that’s a winning combination. Here’s a look at Shelvin in action:
Shelvin’s stock could potentially rise out of the Patriots’ reach if the Tigers have another strong season and his play continues to elevate. Also, the Patriots’ needs could be different next year.
If QB Jarrett Stidham doesn’t establish himself as a legitimate starter in the NFL, the Patriots may have to look at that position as the most important need to fill. As of now, the fit between the Patriots and Shelvin is easy to see.
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