According to Jake Kocorowski of Bucky’s 5th Quarter, Sojourn Shelton has signed with the Bengals’ practice squad.
Shelton was a four-year starter for the Wisconsin Badgers, which included an Honorable Mention All-Big Ten freshman season in 2013, where he registered 36 tackles, four interceptions and five pass breakups.
In 2014, Shelton played in all 14 games while starting 12 and made 33 tackles and six pass breakups. As a junior in 2015, Shelton record 29 tackles and seven pass breakups. In 2016 as a senior, Shelton would garner Second-Team All-Big Ten honors while racking up 27 tackles, four interceptions and 12 pass breakups.
However, Shelton’s standout career was not enough to get him picked in the 2017 NFL Draft. What likely affected his NFL interest was his 5'9”, 177-pound measurements at the NFL Scouting Combine. That’s very small for an NFL defensive back, but he certainly overcame those shortcomings in college.
Shortly after the draft, Shelton signed with the Arizona Cardinals, where he’s been until this past Saturday when Arizona waived him during final cuts. Despite spending training camp and the preseason with the Cardinals, Shelton is signing with a different team’s practice squad.
Shelton now becomes the second defensive back on the practice squad. Demetrious Cox was claimed off waivers by the Carolina Panthers. Tony Mcrae has yet to surface anywhere, despite spending time on the Bengals’ practice squad last year. Brandon Wilson cleared waivers and was signed to the practice squad.
Here’s some thoughts on Shelton from Kocorowski, who covers the Badgers for SB Nation’s Wisconsin blog:
Shelton started all four years at Wisconsin, and in 2016, really showed why he was one of the Big Ten's best cornerbacks. Yes, he's about 5'9 and 180 pounds, but his technique and form at corner led to near lockdown status against his competition. It will be interesting to see how the Bengals use Shelton, as he could play both slot and outside corner spots at Wisconsin, but will probably be used more inside. If he was a couple of inches taller, he probably would be more on people's radars, but based on his form, play and great attitude, he has the ability to make an NFL roster if given the opportunity.
At the Combine, he ran a 4.51 second 40-yard dash, recorded 10 reps on the bench press, had a 35.0 inch vertical jump, 120 inch broad jump, 6.92 second 3-cone drill and a combine-leading 4.02 second 20-yard shuttle.
Shelton is an athletic cover man with quick, talented feet to stay connected to routes, but he lacks the functional size and strength needed for his work outside of coverage. While he clearly has the speed, quickness and instincts to handle man and zone coverage, any tackling concerns will be exacerbated as teams look to target him over and over if he's on the field. Without special teams talent, making a roster will be much tougher, but he's not without a strong check-mark in the coverage department.