NY Jets: 4 veterans who could surprise in training camp

NY Jets, Nathan Shepherd
NY Jets, Nathan Shepherd / Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
2 of 5
NY Jets, Nathan Shepherd
NY Jets, Nathan Shepherd / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

4. Nathan Shepherd, DT, NY Jets

One of the few remnants of the Mike Maccagnan era, Nathan Shepherd has managed to hold on to his roster spot and maintain a role as a reserve defensive lineman.

A suspension limited him in 2019, but he returned to play some of the most efficient football of his career finishing with a career-best 71.3 Pro Football Focus grade.

Shepherd regained his role as a top backup interior lineman in 2020 playing roughly 30 percent of defensive snaps and finishing with 2.5 sacks, 17 tackles, and eight QB hits — all of which were career-highs.

Shepherd is a fine backup defensive tackle, and while he may be the forgotten member of a revamped Jets defensive line, he could make some noise in training camp.

Quinnen Williams remains sidelined with a foot injury and both Folorunso Fatukasi and Jonathan Marshall are expected to miss the start of training camp along with him.

That should allow Shepherd to receive plenty of snaps with the first-team defense. And it's easy to see Shepherd — along with many others — finding increased success as an interior rusher working under new head coach Robert Saleh.

Shepherd reportedly "turned some heads" with his performance at minicamp. Don't be surprised if he does the same in training camp.