The Jets’ second day of the draft was particularly quiet, as they traded both of their second round picks. In the third round, the Jets took… a Division II player?
With the 72nd pick in the NFL Draft, the New York Jets took Nathan Shepherd, defensive lineman out of Fort Hayes State University. He was a Senior Bowl and NFL Combine stand out, proving his worth to NFL teams. He caught Mike Maccagnan’s eye.
An Inspiring Journey
Shepherd is 24 years old, and will be 25 later this year. Drafting a prospect this old is always questionable, but Shepherd is considered by some a “project.” A 24 year old prospect? Not ideal.
However, Coach Bowles believes Shepherd is not a long-term project. Bowles said to the media “I definitely think he’s a lot more pro ready than a lot of people think” following the selection. Bowles noted he will learn in training camp, and will be in the defensive line rotation for Week 1.
One of the best parts of the Shepherd pick is the story that goes along with it. Shepherd had to step away from football for two years due to financial difficulties. He worked three jobs, one at a plant nursery, another at a printing factory, and another doing electrical work for construction.
Eventually, Shepherd’s hard work paid off. He earned enough money to attend Fort Hayes State, and he walked onto the football team in 2015. After that, all signs pointed up for Shepherd. He was a standout senior in 2017, earning him attention from NFL teams, including the Jets.
And now, here we are. He is seven years removed from high school, and is finally achieving his dream. What a story. From gardening, to printing, to electrical work, to the National Football League.
In terms of football, Shepherd is a great player. He was a powerhouse at Fort Hayes State, dominating his competition. His use of his weight, power and strength made him a force in college.
Film Thread: Nathan Sheperd (continued)
— James Cunningham (@JCunninghamNFL) April 28, 2018
He plays with so much strength. After briefly watching game tape, I see him plow through lines. Over, and over, and over, and over again. His style of play reminds me of Damon “Snacks” Harrison, or even Muhammad Wilkerson when he was playing well.
Lack of Competition?
One of the biggest question marks on Shepherd’s game is his competition. He played Division II football his whole career, and never really saw top tier talent during his college career.
However, he received a Senior Bowl invite, and played extremely well there. He also had a good NFL Combine. He really put his name out there through the pre-draft process. Teams eventually realized what a player he was in college.
Shepherd is expected to fill the recently vacated role of defensive end, which was recently owned by Muhammad Wilkerson. He fits well into a 3-4 scheme at defensive end, and could help Leonard Williams in the long run. All in all, this was another great pick by the Jets.