As the New York Jets continue training camp, defensive end Nathan Sheperd has impressed early on.
It’s no secret that the New York Jets have several issues on their roster as they prepare for the upcoming season. One big issue is whether or not their pass rush will be improved compared to last year. In 2017, the Jets didn’t consistently get to the quarterback or even pressure them into mistakes as much as they would have liked.
As a whole, the Jets defense ended with just 28 sacks last year and due to a lack of pass rush, it was a big reason why they ended with another 5-11 losing season. If you can’t get to the quarterback enough and give them time to do what they do best, even mediocre quarterbacks can look like superstars.
The Jets stocked up on potential pass rushers in both the free agency period as well as the 2018 NFL Draft. One of their draft picks, defensive end Nathan Shepherd, has already started to make his presence known early on in training camp.
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It has been a short stint now. He is getting his footwork right, learning his technique and he’s getting the defense down. But we know he’s strong and we know he has a motor and some pass rush moves that he’s stout against the run. Just got to learn what he’s doing and keep moving forward from there.
Ideally, the Jets are hoping that Shepherd, a third-round pick, can be a good player to team up alongside Leonard Williams with. Last season, Williams was hindered due to a lingering wrist injury but even when healthy, he was constantly double-teamed. The Jets didn’t have any other legitimate pass rushers which made it easy for opposing offensive coordinators to focus on phasing Williams out on plays to execute.
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There is only so much Williams can do in those situations but if Shepherd can develop sooner rather than later, it would undoubtedly help alleviate some of those double-team situations in 2018. At the rate he’s going, even though it’s early, Shepherd is on his way towards transitioning to the pros well.