DT Nathan Shepherd, Fort Hays St.

6’5” – 315 lbs. – 5.09

Profile:

  • Originally attended Simon Fraser University as an undersized linebacker. Redshirted, then rotated into the defense over nine games. Transferred to Division II Fort Hays St. and spent the past three seasons there, enjoying three productive seasons to conclude his collegiate career.

Positives:

  • Plays the one-technique and sometimes even the zero-technique; may project as more of a three-technique or one-gap one-technique in the pros. Has an impressive combination of height and bulk for a defensive tackle, with more athleticism than is usual for his size. An explosive player off the snap who drew a lot of attention from opposing blocking schemes; was frequently chipped or double-teamed by opponents. Has an excellent work rate on a snap-to-snap basis and served as an every-down lineman at the college level. Able to flow down the line toward the ballcarrier on stretch runs and other outside attempts. Flashes the ability to make tackles while engaged. Tenacious bull-rusher who can walk back opposing linemen into the pocket. Varies his approach as a pass-rusher and flashes the ability to shed blockers with hand use. Has short-area quickness to find open lanes to the quarterback, and an impressive burst to finish his rushes with sacks. Blocked a couple of kicks in his first season at Fort Hays St. Walked on after working at a factory and ended up paying his way through college.

Negatives:

  • Will need to make a massive leap up in the level of competition he’ll be facing at the next level. Lets his pad level rise and is already taller than your typical defensive lineman. Can look like he’s playing on skates at times, being washed down the line of scrimmage when opponents get into his pads. Instincts are still a work in progress. Takes himself out of some plays by getting too aggressive; needs to play within the defense more consistently. Consequently, may not appeal to teams that prefer discipline in their run fits over disruptive athletes. Struggled to deal with double-team blockers. Got consistently blown off the line of scrimmage by cut blocks during the games reviewed. Doesn’t always look like he has a plan as a pass-rusher.

Summary:

  • Has been a hot name during the pre-draft process, and could interest teams who are willing to let him sit to begin his career in order to potentially reap the rewards which further development and discipline could bring. Probably won’t appeal to teams looking for discipline on the defensive line, but could be a disruptive force down the road and may go as high as the second day.
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