Now, at least when it comes to Xs and Os, they couldn't be closer together.
The Cleveland Browns made first-round draft picks out of the pair Thursday, and the crowns of their helmets figure to be inches apart in training camp as Shelton plays nose guard and Erving is a center. Two first-round rookies on the same club going head to head down after down should put a bright light on which is most ready to play -- and which is not.
Caveat time: It's not fully clear where Erving will compete on the Browns' offensive line. He played left tackle for most of his final season at FSU, but after a highly successful switch to center late in the year, NFL scouts found him to be a better pro prospect at that position. Browns center Alex Mack broke his leg and was placed on injured reserve last season, and a cautious rehab schedule leaves some question as to whether he'll be fully ready to compete in training camp. If Mack is a go at center, Erving's head-to-head encounters with Shelton in training camp figure to be fewer.
Either way, the pending matchup wasn't lost on either.
"Danny's a great player. I've watched film on him before," Erving said. "It's nothing that I don't know, and he knows I'm a good player, as well. It's going to be time to go out and compete and get better."
Shelton said the two have become friends in Chicago while attending the draft. He had little to say about how he'll match up with his fellow rookie, but unlike Erving, Shelton said his role is well-defined.
"I have no doubt I'm going to play over the center. I'll be at nose tackle and secure that middle section of the field," Shelton said.
Here's hoping Mack takes his time -- the Shelton-Erving matchup deserves a few days in the sun.