How do the experts rate the Jets’ third round selection of Nathan Shepherd? Let’s take a look.
New York Jets
Draft picks: USC QB Sam Darnold (No. 3 overall), Fort Hays State DT Nathan Shepherd (No. 72 overall).
Day 1 grade: A
Day 2 grade: B
Overall grade: A-
The skinny: The Jets gave up three second-round picks to move up three spots to find a quarterback. They might have gotten the top quarterback on their board with Darnold sitting there (though they wouldn’t admit it if he wasn’t their top QB). They paid a pretty high price to get him, but it’s not franchise-killing if it doesn’t work out. It was a good move that could become a great move. The Darnold trade limited their selections on Day 2. Shepherd will take over the nose tackle spot for the Jets, using his power and leverage to keep the line of scrimmage right where it is.
Pick No. 72: The Jets select Nathan Shepherd, Fort Hays State DT.
Grade: Fine. Love it when the small-school guys get picked, and Shepherd’s big and quick, but ... isn’t it about time someone picks up Maurice Hurst?
After not having a second-round pick due to the trade that netted them Sam Darnold, the Jets had to hit with the 72nd overall pick. They did with Fort Hays State defensive tackle Nathan Shepherd. He’s an aggressive interior lineman who is at his best ripping past offensive linemen and getting into the backfield. Shepherd was dominant against lesser competition. The issue with this pick is that the Jets need talent on offense and passed on some good receivers.
72. Nathan Shepherd, Fort Hays St.
This might be low for this power player. The Jets need to get stronger up front, so it works.
72. NEW YORK JETS—DT NATHAN SHEPHERD
Steve McLendon and Xavier Cooper are in contract years, and the Jets had no D-line depth aside from ex-Packer Mike Pennel. Todd Bowles’s scheme requires versatility from D-linemen. Can Shepherd expand his game?
72. New York Jets: Nathan Shepherd, Defensive Tackle, Fort Hays State
Strengths: Quickness, effort.
Weaknesses: Age, level of competition.
Phil Savage, head honcho of the Senior Bowl, told a story in a conference last week about how this year’s attendees were advised to wear a tie to their team interviews so that they would make better impressions on scouts and coaches. Sure enough, Nathan Shepherd spent the rest of the week’s meeting sessions walking around the hotel lobby in a sweater and tie.
Boy, NFL types are impressed by the silliest things, aren’t they? It’s like they are accepting applications for entry-level mailroom jobs in 1953. He’s a fifth-rounder on tape, but his collar was properly starched, so I like the cut of his jib. Let’s draft him instead of that quarterback who thinks about politics.
Anyway, Shepherd will be a 24-year-old rookie who spent three years away from the game before dominating Division II competition for a few seasons. Shepherd is a fine athlete, plays hard, has an interesting backstory and will wear a tie when it’s suggested. But Division II stardom in your mid-20s projects to a short, uneventful NFL career at best.Shepherd will hustle, eat blocks and cause zero headaches. The Jets may be a little too happy with that combination, especially the “no headaches” part.