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Top Five Rookies Bengals Will Face in 2015

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Apr 30, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Danny Shelton (Washington) poses for a photo after being selected as the number 12th overall pick to the Cleveland Browns in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

DT Danny Shelton, Cleveland Browns

Switching to the other side of the ball, the Bengals’ offense will be challenged in Week Nine by Cleveland Browns’ rookie Danny Shelton.

Shelton is a monstrosity of a man in the middle of the line.  At 6’2″, 339 pounds, Shelton will command double teams and will plug holes in the middle of the line against the run.  Making matters worse, despite his great size, Shelton’s conditioning is tremendous.  Lance Zierlein notes via Shelton’s draft profile that Shelton “played a high percentage of Washington’s defensive snaps.”  Typically teams can count on players of this size to step off the field often, but Cincinnati will get no such respite when facing off with arguably the best run stopper from the Class of 2015.

With the Browns, Shelton will fill the starting nose tackle role.  He’ll single-handedly improve Cleveland’s run defense, which was nothing short of terrible last season; the Browns finished last in the league against the run.  His ability to draw double teams will also makes things easier on rushers such as Paul Kruger, who accumulated 11 sacks last year, and Barkevious Mingo.

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When the Bengals face the Browns in Weeks Nine and 13, they’ll have their hands full facing such a strong defensive front.  Luckily, Cincinnati selected center Russell Bodine for just such an occasion.  Although Bodine struggled in his rookie season at times, it’s perfectly reasonable to assume he’ll improve this year with one season under his belt.

The Bengals took Bodine specifically for his strong and ability to handle big nose tackles, which is exactly what Shelton is.  Bodine will likely face one of his biggest (pun intended) opponents of the year in Shelton, and this test could prove to be one of the measuring sticks when deciding how much Bodine has improved from year one to two.

Running the ball will be a huge emphasis of the Bengals’ offense in 2015.  Danny Shelton specializes in stopping the run.  This means these matchups could be some of the most intriguing of the year.  Russell Bodine and his guard counterparts better be ready.

Next: Week 12 versus the Rams