The New York Jets selected Fort Hays State Defensive Lineman Nathan Shepherd with the 72nd overall pick in the NFL Draft. Daniel Mosher gives his initial reaction to the pick below.
With their third round selection, the Jets may have pegged the 6’4″ 315 lb Shepherd to hopefully fill the void left by the recently departed Muhammad Wilkerson.
Shepherd has taken a long journey to the NFL; when his scholarship to Simon Frazier had run out, the Canadian born Defensive Lineman began working a factory job until he had the money to get back to school. He enrolled at Fort Hays State and absolutely dominated the lowered competition level: racking up 99 tackles, 22 TFLs and 7 sacks over his last two seasons.
While, understandably going under the radar at Fort Hays, Shepherd managed to set himself apart at the Senior Bowl, winning every one of his 1 on 1 reps before suffering a minor hand injury. Shepherd continued his impressive offseason tour, showing off natural athleticism during the combine’s positional drills.
On tape, Shepherd jumps off the screen (as you expect DII NFL prospects to) with his strength and athleticism. Watch below as he rips through the double team and lays an absolute smack onto the rusher.
This poor lineman..
Shepherd explodes into the lineman in the play below, completely ripping him out of the play. He doesn’t finish the play off the sack, but his teammates come in to clean up.
The obvious knock on Shepherd is his age, turning 25 in October, he unfortunately fits in with GM Mike Maccagnan’s love of older prospects. In the post-pick presser, Maccagnan said that Shepherd is “not too old of an investment for a draft pick” and how the staff had to “weigh age with ability and potential.”
Head Coach Todd Bowles mentioned Shepherd’s “heavy hands” and quickness off the ball. While conceding that he needed to refine his technique, Bowles also said that he isn’t too raw to be featured in the D-Line rotation as a rookie.
I expect Shepherd to have a quiet, but effective rookie year as he adjusts to the NFL game. In year two and three, expect to have a quality 5-tech starting opposite Leonard Williams.
Photo Credit: NFL.com