Here are some preliminary thoughts I have about the Jets’ selection of Nathan Shepherd.
-You would be inaccurate if you said the defensive line is not a position of need for the Jets. This isn’t 2013. This isn’t 2015. Sheldon Richardson, Damon Harrison, and Muhammad Wilkerson are gone. Leonard Williams is the only proven starting level defensive lineman under 31 years old on the roster so this pick certainly addresses a long-term need.
-Since Mike Maccagnan took over as general manager, the Jets have made a quiet but notable investment in their scouting apparatus. It wouldn’t be accurate to say Shepherd was a complete secret within the scouting community, but a small school player like this who flew under the radar relatively speaking will be a good test of how effective this team’s investment in scouting really is. The biggest reason to invest in scouting is to find impact players in spots other teams can’t find them.
-Just as this is a test of the front office, this is also a test of the coaching staff’s ability to develop talent. There is some degree of debate about how raw Shepherd is, but there is little doubt the talent level of his opponents is going up exponentially. At a small school, he was likely so dominant that he could get away with not playing perfect technique. The much smaller margin for error will be an adjustment, and it will be up to the coaching staff to help him work through that adjustment.
-The red flags are his small school pedigree and his advanced age for a prospect. Neither is a dealbreaker, but both must be noted.
-With that said, he was a standout of Senior Bowl week, albeit one that was shortened by a hand injury so there is some evidence he can increase his level of play against higher competition.
-The Jets are a team lacking in both high end talent and a second round pick so the theory behind taking a high risk, high reward type of player in the third round makes sense.
-Ultimately how you feel about this pick probably comes down to how much you trust Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles.
What do you think?
Grade the selection of Nathan Shepherd.
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