Bill Belichick has a type when it comes to defensive tackles, and one prospect caught his eye during the team’s scouting ahead of last year’s NFL Draft.
This year, the New England Patriots drafted DT Christian Barmore from Alabama, but he wasn’t the guy Belichick expressly referred to when he said, “I want that guy on our team.”
The team traded up to take Barmore in the second round of the NFL Draft last month, but the object of Belichick’s admiration was the powerful LSU nose tackle Tyler Shelvin.
According to Brody Miller of The Athletic, while scouting some of LSU’s top prospects ahead of the 2020 NFL Draft, Belichick said this to his staff about Shelvin.
“I want No. 72. You make sure No. 72 is on our team.”
Perhaps something changed between the time Belichick took Barmore and told his staff he wanted Shelvin. The massive LSU product was on the board when Belichick traded up to take Barmore.
Shelvin Landed With the Cincinnati Bengals
Shelvin didn’t hear his name called until the fourth round when the Cincinnati Bengals made him the 122nd pick of the 2021 NFL Draft.
By that time, Belichick hadn’t just passed over Shelvin in the second round with the selection of Barmore. Still, the legendary coach and general manager also chose Oklahoma’s defensive end Ronnie Perkins (96th pick) and Sooners’ running back Rhamondre Stevenson (120th pick) over Shelvin.
There are some physical similarities between Shelvin and former Patriots’ great Vince Wilfork. That may be what initially drew Belichick to the 6’3″ 350-pound behemoth.
However, something must have cooled Belichick’s affection for Shelvin during the 2020 season. NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein recognized Shelvin’s strength and ability to absorb blockers while helping to stuff the run game.
However, he also pointed out some troubling weaknesses in Shelvin’s game. Zierlein listed the following as “weaknesses” in his scouting report for Shelvin.
Conditioning has been an issue. Carries excess weight and below-average body type. Gasses out over second half of the rep. Lacks range to make plays down the line. Too slow in getting off blocks to make tackles. Lacks lateral quickness to factor against stretch plays. Seal blocks hold up against him. Little rush production and unlikely to see the field on passing downs
No one should ever expect Shelvin to be much of a pass rusher, but it’s easy to see how he could be a valuable presence against the run if he’s in the suitable scheme.
Barmore is Considered the Best Defensive Tackle Prospect in the 2021 Draft
While we’re talking a lot about Shelvin, Belichick and his team went with the consensus top player at the position when they drafted Barmore. Here’s what Zierlein said about Barmore ahead of the NFL Draft.
Attack-oriented defensive tackle with a big body, violent hands and the talent to work his way around blocks and find the football. Barmore tends to be in the lead and take control of a majority of reps. His hands and feet sing in harmony and allow him to stay active and free from attempts to sustain blocks against him. His hands are heavy and powerful but also sudden and efficient, which creates early win opportunities for him in the run game and as a pass rusher. Barmore can be his own worst enemy when he freestyles his run fits and prematurely gives away positioning when posting up in read-and-react mode. He’s exceptional at finding a blocker’s edge and swiping past the outside hand to bring the ruckus inside the pocket. While he has similar size and skill set, it doesn’t feel like he’s as long at the point of attack as past Alabama defensive tackles now in the pros. Barmore’s explosive first step, violent hands and upper-body power are the ingredients of a three-down defender with the versatility to play a number of positions in an even or odd front as an impactful rookie starter.
Zierlein compared Barmore to former Pro-Bowler and Alabama star Marcell Dareus. While we won’t see comparisons between Shelvin and Barmore as much as we might have if they were quarterbacks, it will be interesting to see which player has the better career.
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