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Jets 2018 Roster Countdown: Number 97 Nathan Shepherd

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NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Our countdown of the Jets roster now takes a look at third round pick Nathan Shepherd.

Name: Nathan Shepherd

Number: 97

Year with Jets: 1st

Projected Role: Backup defensive lineman

His 2017: Shepherd finished his final season at Fort Hays State by collecting a Division II Second Team All American selection and the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Defensive Player of the Year award as he registered 12.5 tackles for a loss.

Shepherd drew a lot of attention with a strong performance during Senior Bowl practices, answering some questions about how well he could hold up against a higher level of competition. The Jets picked him in the third round of the NFL Draft, and immediately won fans over as they heard his stories of perseverance bouncing around multiple small schools and working jobs at factories and bars among other places as he pursued his dream.

2018 will be a success if: Shepherd shows signs of growth as a rookie.

High future ceiling and incredible personal story aside, there aren’t many third round picks who step onto an NFL field and make an immediate impact. That goes double for small school prospects. It would be best to keep expectations low for year one and be pleasantly surprised if Shepherd exceeds them. The Jets have enough quality players on the defensive line that there is no great need to rush him into a big role before he is ready.

This is likely a development year for Shepherd. If he can work his way into a rotational role and give the team a handful of decent snaps, that would be excellent.

Odds of making the roster: A rookie third round pick is an automatic Lock (>99%).