Jets defensive lineman Nathan Shepherd wasn’t on the active roster for the Jets’ season opener against the Bills. As it turns out, Shepherd was left out of the game due to a pending six-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs, as Tom Pelissero of NFL.com writes.
When popped for PEDs, players typically say that they did not knowingly take a banned substance. That’s not the case with the 2018 third-round pick, who celebrated his 26th birthday today.
“All that was going on, I was coming off of a subpar season and a new coaching staff, new playbook, new everything,” said Shepherd, a holdover from one of ex-GM Mike Maccagnan‘s last drafts in office. “In my mindset, I didn’t feel very confident with how everything had gone thus far. In my mind, I was so prepared to come into this offseason and have a successful offseason and train very hard. I felt that because of these limitations, I wasn’t going to be able to do that. I made a rash decision, an unwise decision and a selfish decision to look to certain PEDs in order to help me with that recovery process so I would be ready to go.”
Shepherd explained that he tested positive on June 27 and again on July 25 while rehabbing from shoulder and groin injuries. His shoulder may eventually require surgery and a snag in his sports hernia surgery recovery left him with a herniated L4-L5 disc in his back.
The suspension has not been formally announced yet by the NFL, but that should be coming any moment now. Shepherd’s public confession, in all likelihood, means that he is either not filing an appeal or has already lost his appeal.
Last year, Shepherd tallied 15 tackles while appearing in all 16 games for Gang Green, including five starts.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Redskins are going to be one of the more interesting teams to monitor during training camp. They have a bunch of interesting storylines, none bigger than the battle between rookie Dwayne Haskins and Case Keenum to be the team’s starting quarterback. Speaking to Steve Wyche of NFL Network recently, Redskins GM Doug Williams indicated that the front office and even ownership would play a role in determining when Haskins starts (Twitter link).
Williams specifically indicated the decision would not be head coach Jay Gruden’s alone, saying that he, Gruden, team president Bruce Allen, and owner Dan Snyder would come together to make a decision. That news is sure to rile up Redskins fans, who have mixed feelings on Snyder, to put it nicely. Williams said he was excited about Haskins’ development, but made sure to emphasize they wouldn’t just throw him out there if he wasn’t ready. That’s the language any team is going to speak, and the part about it being a collaborative process is the real eyebrow-raiser here. Gruden appears to be coaching for his job this season, and Washington won’t be able to keep Haskins on the bench too long unless Keenum looks lights out during the preseason.
Here’s a couple of other notes from around the league on a slow Saturday evening:
- The supplemental draft got a lot more interesting earlier today when Washington State safety Jalen Thompson announced he’d be entering. The three previous players to enter July’s supplemental draft weren’t too noteworthy, but Thompson is intriguing. Thompson seems like a near-lock to get drafted, and Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com tweets that scouts had given him a 3rd/4th round grade prior to last season. Pauline also notes that the three-year starter has scheduled a July 8th workout for NFL teams in Los Angeles. It’ll likely be heavily attended. While we don’t have the full details yet on why Thompson was ruled ineligible for the 2019 NCAA season and had to declare, Washington State did issue a statement, per Jessamyn McIntyre (Twitter link). In their statement, the Cougars simply said he lost his final season of eligibility “due to a violation of NCAA rules.”
- The Jets took a gamble by drafting defensive lineman Nathan Shepherd in the third round last year, and so far it hasn’t paid off. Shepherd played at small-school Fort Hays State so he was a bit hard to scout, but the team banked on his upside when they took him 72nd overall. Shepherd played around 30 percent of the team’s defensive snaps as a rookie, but didn’t play particularly well and appears to be falling out of favor with the new coaching staff. While breaking down the team’s depth chart, Matt Stypulkoski of NJ.com writes that Shepherd’s stock has gone down so far this offseason, saying it “sure seems like it only took one season for Shepherd to turn into something of a forgotten man,” and adding that he “hasn’t proven enough.” There’s still a long way to go, so Shepherd could always find himself back in favor with Adam Gase, but right now things aren’t looking great.
- In case you missed it, the Chiefs could reopen extension talks with Tyreek Hill now that it looks like he’ll emerge from the league’s investigation relatively cleanly.
Here are the rest of Friday’s draft signings.
- Third-round pick Nathan Shepherd signed his Jets deal, the team announced. A defensive tackle out of Division II Fort Hays State, Shepherd is currently slated to shift to end in New York’s 3-4 look. With Shepherd’s contract finalized, 22 third-round picks remain unsigned. That comprises nearly a third of the unsigned picks. The CBA’s vague language regarding this round provides annual holdups on these agreements. Shepherd will sign for four years and $3.447MM and receive a $987K signing bonus. As a third-round pick, Shepherd’s only true guaranteed money will come from that bonus.
The Browns listened to offers for their No. 4 overall pick, but the talks for that spot did not escalate too far. Four teams contacted John Dorsey about potentially moving into that position, Peter King of SI.com reports, noting just one offered a package including a 2019 first-rounder. King estimates the Cardinals were that team. However, Dorsey said the franchise interested in moving up to No. 4 was interested in a quarterback that the Browns GM knew going to be available.
“I’m coming up for one player and one player only, and that’s Baker Mayfield.” the anonymous exec told Dorsey, who relayed this to King. “I knew all along it wasn’t going to happen.”
Mayfield visited the Cardinals before the draft, and while it’s uncertain if they were the team that offered a 2019 first-rounder, their No. 15 draft position being the lowest of the QB-needy teams would make such a proposal logical. Arizona ended up with Josh Rosen, moving up five spots without having to sacrifice a first- or second-round pick to do so.
Here’s more from Cleveland and the rest of the latest draft fallout.
- New Browns vice president of football operations Alonzo Highsmith said for months he had Sam Darnold rated ahead of Baker Mayfield in a succession that went Darnold, Mayfield, Rosen, Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen. But Mayfield’s visit changed the new Cleveland exec’s tune. “From the start of this college football season to the end of the season, I had Darnold No. 1 and Baker No. 2. On our way through everything, you couldn’t tell me Darnold wasn’t the best,” Highsmith said (via Steve Doerschuk of the Canton Repository). “Then comes the part where you meet them off the field. You watch their workouts. You watch everything. And Baker blew me away. Highly, highly intelligent. Highly competitive. And he had a trait that some of the good ones have. I call it efficacy. That includes the power to effect other people. I thought that of all the quarterbacks I watched, he stood out far and above the other guys. When he walked into a room, you knew he was there.”
- Lamar Jackson‘s pre-draft process did not go smoothly, with CBS Sports’ Joel Corry reporting teams had trouble scheduling workouts and meetings with him. The quarterback also experienced difficulties breaking down plays on teams’ whiteboards at the Combine. Corry notes Jackson’s decision to not hire an agent could have cost him some money on his rookie contract, with the Ravens being able to get him at No. 32 after a contingent in their draft room lobbied for him at 16.
- Chris Ballard said, via Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star, the Colts‘ decision to make Quenton Nelson this year’s No. 6 overall pick was the easiest draft decision he’d made in 19 years (Twitter link). However, if Bradley Chubb would have remained on the board, Ballard admitted (via Holder, on Twitter) it would have been a much tougher call. Had the Broncos and Bills been able to swing a deal, the Colts would have been faced with that decision. But when the Bills contacted the Colts about a trade for No. 6, Ballard appeared to intimate he was fixated on Nelson.
- Fort Hays State defensive tackle Nathan Shepherd will be stationed at defensive end in the Jets‘ 3-4 scheme, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News notes. Despite weighing 315 pounds, Shepherd will be in line to potentially take Muhammad Wilkerson‘s spot opposite Leonard Williams come training camp.