6'3, 240 pounds | Linebacker | LSU
Coverage: When dropping into coverage, Sheppard keeps his pad level low and his eyes in the backfield reading the quarterback. However, his good initial technique is washed over because of his tight hips and limited quickness. In zone coverage, he lacks the necessary feel for the routes developing often ending up out of position. Sheppard's tight hips make him a liability in man coverage as he struggles to turn and run with backs and tight ends.
Instincts: Sheppard is not an instinctive football player and is often found out of position. He doesn't quickly identify his keys and has a bad habit of guessing. This lack of awareness often results in Sheppard going to the wrong side of the field and taking himself completely out of the play. His game is full of false steps as he routinely bites on play action and is caught dropping backwards on running plays. The most troubling thing I saw was his poor reaction time. He waited to long to react to the football which limited the plays he was able to impact.
Pass rush: Poor timing and lack of explosion hinder Sheppard's ability to provide a pass rush. His poor awareness leads to hesitation and allows the offensive line to pick up his rush. He doesn't have the quickness to be an effective edge rusher.
Pursuit: As a result of several factors, Sheppard struggles to put himself around the football. The biggest factor is his lack of instincts and urgency. His hesitation allows the offensive linemen to climb to his level and seal him from the play. When he does react quickly, his impact is limited because of poor angles. He is often found crashing the line on sideline runs rather than taking appropriate angles.
Quickness: There were very limited plays where I felt Sheppard looked explosive. The false steps and hesitation in his game seem to always put him a step behind. He is not a quick twitch athlete as he takes a long time to get up to full speed. Sheppard also appears to only have one speed which limits his break on the football.
Run defense: Sheppard does a good job keeping low and using his hands to lock out potential blockers. However, he is often caught hand fighting rather than disengaging. While in pursuit, he struggles to remain clean through traffic often getting sealed from the play. Sheppard's best attribute is his ability to step up towards the line and hold strong at the point of attack.
Strength: The fact that Sheppard possesses a strong anchor allows him to hold at the point of attack. He rarely gets pushed back off the ball and is able to hold his ground. However, he lacks heavy hands and struggles to disengage from blocks.
Tackling: Sheppard is a strong tackler that is always under control when heading towards the football. He keeps his head up while breaking down and wrapping up the ball carrier. He does a nice job exploding through his hips and delivering a good pop.
Games Views: Alabama, Texas A&M, Auburn
Final word: Some evaluators are high on Sheppard but I am not among that group. Sheppard didn't show me enough for me to feel he can contribute in the NFL. His poor instincts are a real problem as he is rarely around the football. If I am drafting a linebacker, I want him to be able to make his presence felt but Sheppard just didn't stand out to me. He appeared to play with a lack of urgency and explosion. I wouldn't use a pick on Sheppard prior to the 5th or 6th round of the 2011 NFL Draft.