2018 Raiders Draft Prospect
Name: Nathan Shepherd
School: Fort Hays State
Weight: 310 pounds
Round Projection: 3rd-5th
When you press play on Nathan Shepherd’s film, one thought crosses your mind. First and foremost, Shepherd brings an abnormal amount of violence to the field. However, it is contained to the play. While Shepherd does not own the most diverse or polished repertoire, the skills exist. Granted, Shepherd’s approach to the pass rush is raw. Meanwhile, he wins with brute force. Shepherd’s hands, from snap to whistle wreak havoc. Although his bull rush is not textbook, Shepherd uses it to destroy the pocket. Similarly, when he disengages, his handfighting is both quick and angry.
To Shepherd’s credit, he can execute basic moves. For example, his spin move, with drilling could turn out much better. Due to Shepherd’s frame, he could potentially learn and master every move. Now, his power and explosion wins.
When facing the run game, Shepherd will attempt to shoot a gap and make the choice for the back. Additionally, Shepherd fights through a double, making his impact felt. Where Shepherd excels is his pursuit. While most tackles trudge forwards and sits, Shepherd will flow down the line toward the play.
Normally, there would be other categories, such as speed, strength etc. Nevertheless, the physical talent exists. Now, some may bring up the name Jihad Ward in the upside category. No, not close. Shepherd possesses strength, short area agility and a high ceiling. In Paul Guenther’s first year, the Raiders appear desperate for line talent. Basically, the defensive tackle situation looks thin. Eddie Vanderdoes flashed but suffered another lower body injury. Khalil Mack enters his free agency year. As a result, he needs a secondary rusher without blitzing linebackers.
Truthfully, Shepherd could evolve into a hellacious tackle in Guenther’s system. The Raiders need an attitude on the line. From a technical aspect, Shepherd will improve and shows progress. Far from a finished product, he can win with above-average hand skills and a limber frame. Unlike previous Raiders draft flops along the line, Shepherd appears to have a clue. The Raiders could find Shepherd on Day 2.