Another NFL Draft down, another Canadian selected into the professional sport. Nathan Shepherd, formerly of Fort Hays State University, was selected in the third round of the 2018 draft by the New York Jets – much to the delight of Canadian sport fans.
The pick marked the eighth season in a row with at least one Canadian native selected into the NFL and Shepherd could turn out to be a huge success on the big stage. It would be foolish to write him off after all of the hype surrounding him.
Selected in the third round, Shepherd will now head to the Big Apple. Fort Hays State Tigers will miss his impact and influence on the defensive line but nobody was standing in his way on the road to greatness. During his college career, Shepherd registered 38 tackles – with 12.5 going for a loss of yardage.
In addition, he recorded four sacks and that was enough to secure the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Defensive Player of the Year for 2017.
Prior to April’s selection, NFL Draft guru Mike Mayock had Shepherd ranked as the 43rd best player in the 2018 pool and the Jets have a real talent on their hands. Shepherd was a key figure for the Tigers last year, helping Chris Brown’s men to their first ever MIAA title.
Todd Bowles will expect Shepherd to mature into an elite star in the coming years. Being selected into the NFL with the 72nd overall pick was a real honour and Shepherd will be determined to reward New York’s trust with a solid return this year.
The Jets struggled to inspire confidence last season, especially on defense. New York ended the campaign with five wins from 16 games; conceding 23.9 points per game – one of the worst ratios in the NFL.
Furthermore, the Jets ranked 28th for total sacks (28.0) and ninth against the run. Shepherd should help to tighten things up on the defensive front; he fared well against talented running backs throughout his college career in Canada.
At the time of writing, Bowles’ side are 10/1 to win the AFC East in NFL betting odds with bet365. The Jets are now preferred to the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills in the division but stopping the New England Patriots is a tough ask.
Shepherd will be dreaming of a sack on legendary quarterback Tom Brady and the Jets do tend to raise their game for those two divisional fixtures. Fans will be hoping that he manages to stay injury-free after a hectic few months recovering from a fractured hand.
Jets fans saw Shepherd attend the 2018 NFL Combine despite that injury and you cannot fault that level of commitment. He looks well suited to the Jets organisation and New York supporters will be expecting big things from the Canadian in years to come.
The AFC East outfit are midway through a rebuilding process and there is light at the end of the tunnel – another positive campaign looks likely. A Super Bowl push is some way off but Shepherd and other young stars can help to get New York back to their brilliant best in the long term.