7 former NY Jets draft picks fighting for a roster spot this summer

NY Jets, Denzel Mims
NY Jets, Denzel Mims / Steven Ryan/GettyImages
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NY Jets, Nathan Shepherd
NY Jets, Nathan Shepherd / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

3. Nathan Shepherd, DT, NY Jets

Despite the Jets' additions at defensive end, the defensive tackle position is still rather thin at the time of writing. The team has shown interest in signing former Browns and Bengals defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi, however.

If that deal does eventually happen, it's easy to see a player like Nathan Shepherd being the odd-man-out.

The lone remaining member of Mike Maccagnan's 2018 draft class, Shepherd is another player who has lasted a surprisingly long time with the organization.

The 28-year-old is going on his fifth year with the franchise which is rather stunning given his lack of status on the team. Shepherd appeared in all 17 games with the Jets last season, although he failed to make much of a positive impact.

In recent years (mostly 2021), he's become more known for his back-breaking penalties than any on-field production. Nonetheless, he's currently penciled in as perhaps the Jets' top backup defensive tackle.

Quinnen Williams is obviously a roster lock. Barring an unexpected post-draft cut, Sheldon Rankins should be back as well. That leaves Shepherd competing with 2021 sixth-round pick Jonathan Marshall and a few others for rotational jobs.

This all comes down to how often the Jets plan to play players like John Franklin-Myers and Solomon Thomas in an interior role. If they see them as primarily defensive tackles, Shepherd could be left on the outside looking in.

Right now, I'd say Shepherd probably has a better chance to make the roster than most on this list, but he's not a lock.