College: Fort Hays State
Position: Defensive lineman
College Stats: 38 tackles. 12.5 tackles for loss, 4 sacks in 2017
Chasing his NFL dream has led Nathan Shepherd all over the continent. Shepherd is from Ajax, Ontario and moved cross-country to attend Simon Fraser University in British Columbia after high school. Simon Fraser is the one Canadian university that plays in the NCAA, as a member of the Great Northwest Conference in Division II.
After some initial success as a freshman, Shepherd headed south of the border to continue his journey and saw his career take off at Fort Hays State. As a sophomore, he earned all-conference honors and was named the MVP of the school’s bowl game, racking up 14 tackles in the middle of the defensive line.
He continued to improve as a junior and by the time he was a senior, he was a star. Shepherd was named an First Team All-American by a number of publications and was selected as the MIAA’s Defensive Player of the Year. He was a finalist for the Cliff Harris Award and earned invites to both the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and the Reese’s Senior Bowl after a great season.
Shepherd has the ideal size that teams are looking for in the middle of the defensive line. He has a quick first step and holds the line well. He does not get caught off-balance and stood out in Senior Bowl practices, earning some positive reviews from the NFL scouts and draft analysts there.
His measurables all check out too. Shepherd is an above average prospect compared to the other defensive tackles in the draft in this regard.
Nathan Shepherd is one impressive 1T. pic.twitter.com/6UegNEpYn7— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) March 5, 2018
Unfortunately Shepherd was unable to participate in the last couple practices of the Senior Bowl, and the game itself, after he suffered a broken bone in his hand. He was able to participate in all of the events at the NFL Draft Combine, but he missed out on some valuable repetitions.
The good news for Fort Hays State DT Nathan Shepherd, a Senior Bowl standout before breaking his hand today: It’s a second metacarpal spiral fracture, source said. No surgery. Heal in 2-3 weeks. Should be ready for most drills at the combine.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) January 25, 2018
Something that may be held against him are his relatively short arms for a defensive tackle. A lot is made of the arm length of both offensive and defensive linemen every year, yet the results seem to show that arm length has no correlation with performance. If there is no correlation between performance and arm length for offensive tackles, it’s hard to imagine there would be for interior defensive linemen.
Blogging the Boys recently reported that Dallas had invited Shepherd to their facility as a pre-draft visitor and he has also had a private workout with the team. Both Mel Kiper and Todd McShay recently pegged him as a third-round selection with Kiper mocking him to the Cowboys and McShay predicting he will go to the Bills. With both of ESPN’s draft gurus placing him in the third round, it seems likely he will be a Day 2 selection.