Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian Defensive Tackle Nathan Shepherd Selected by Jets in NFL Draft

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian Defensive Tackle Nathan Shepherd Selected by Jets in NFL Draft

Article excerpt

Canadian Shepherd taken at NFL draft

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Nathan Shepherd is off to the Big Apple.

The New York Jets selected the Fort Hays State University defensive tackle in the third round, No. 72 overall, in the NFL draft Friday night. It marks the eighth straight year at least one Canadian has been selected.

The six-foot-five, 315-pound native of Ajax, Ont., was the highest-projected Canadian in the draft. Shepeherd also became the first player selected from Fort Hays State in 31 years.

Gil Brandt, the longtime Dallas Cowboys executive and current senior analyst at NFL.com, ranked Shepherd at No. 50 among his top-150 draft prospects. NFL draft guru Mike Mayock had the 24-year-old Shepherd at No. 43 on his top-100 list.

On the surface that would've suggested a second-round grade for Shepherd. However, before the draft Mayock said because Shepherd was raw, he could slide to the third because teams would have to wait to get production from him.

"He's one of my favourite people in the draft," Mayock said on NFL Network. "He reminds me a little bit of Akiem Hicks (the former Regina Rams defensive lineman now with the Chicago Bears).

"He's a raw piece of clay and he's got this NFL-ready body and explosion. He's got some inside-out versatility and I love his upside."

Shepherd registered 38 tackles (12.5 for loss) and four sacks to earn Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association defensive player of the year and NCAA Division II All-American honours last season. Shepherd also helped Fort Hays State (11-0) win its first MIAA title.

Being taken in the third round will give Shepherd some financial stability. Last year, receiver Taywan Taylor signed a four-year, US$3.68 million contract with the Tennessee Titans after being taken in the third round, No. 72 overall, that also included a $916,012 signing bonus.

Shepherd has taken a long path to the NFL draft.

He began his collegiate career at Simon Fraser in 2012 as a six-foot-one, 205-pound linebacker. But financial challenges forced him to leave school after just one year.

After returning to Toronto in 2014, Shepherd worked at a factory that printed boxes. Once he'd saved up enough money, he enrolled at Fort Hays State for the 2015 season, paying for his first semester while playing football as a walk-on. …

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