However, isn’t a real impressive key and diagnose guy. Fails to consistently read his run keys, fill the proper lanes and make his way toward the action. Takes himself out of a lot of plays and isn’t overly physical when asked to take on blocks inside. Can be easily engulfed and sealed from the football. Doesn’t break down real well in space either, plays out of control at times and too often will whiff in the open field.
Now, does display some natural fluidity and range in the pass game. Gets a deep drop in coverage, can be physical off the line and isn’t afraid to play over the slot. Again, seems to play a bit out of control at times, taking a false step trying to jump a route. But, he has the ability to quickly accelerate out of his breaks once he locates the football and isn’t afraid to throw his body around. One of the leaders of the LSU defense and has a real fire and passion for the game.
Impression: Displays some range and natural power, but his lack of instincts really scare me and are going to limit what he can do for an NFL defense. Has the physical ability to start, but I do question his mental makeup. Nevertheless, at worst looks like a heck of a special teams guy and utility backer for an NFL defense."
Positives: Savvy defender who locates the football quickly and wastes little time in arriving due to very good agility and speed. Good straight-line speed and agility for coverage. Has the athleticism to remain on the field on third down. Times his blitz well with the snap count. Good speed off the edge, and shows some lateral agility to avoid blockers. Aggressive run-defender who is consistently able to slip by blockers due to good instincts and agility. Generally a reliable wrap-up tackler. Pursues hard laterally and downfield. Characterized as a leader by Les Miles and is liked and respected by his teammates. Gives his teammates the credit when he's individually recognized. Voted team captain in 2010.
Negatives: Susceptible to play-action due to his aggressive nature and will occasionally get caught watching the quarterback and can lose his man. Lacks the explosiveness to take on and beat interior linemen physically and shows little technique. Has to do a better job of protecting his knees against the cut-block. Able to disengage when hit by blockers, but needs to add upper-body strength, as it takes him too long to do so. Can come in a bit out of control and provide cutback opportunities. Doesn't play a particularly physical brand of football."
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."
Sheppard was a three star linebacker who elected to sign with the LSU Tigers, and would end up ending his career as one of the better linebackers to ever come out of LSU. He’s a three year starter and has played in every game since his redshirt freshman year.
Sheppard is one of the most fundamentally sound middle linebackers in the 2011 NFL Draft. He does a great job of wrapping up ball carriers and he has improved year in and year out in coverage. His instincts and read and react ability have really helped him develop into a solid linebacker with excellent upside in the NFL. He takes good angles to the ball carrier and is a cerebral linebacker who will play with a quarterbacks head in coverage. His awareness is exceptional, especially in coverage and despite sometimes playing a bit stiff he’s made an impact as an all-around middle linebacker.
Sheppard’s issue is his athleticism. He’s not very quick, fast, or strong. When in pursuit, sometimes he’ll get caught up in traffic and struggle to get off of blocks. The 3-4 defense is not a good fit for him, although he could bulk up and attempt to play the position. Sheppard may switch to the outside in a 4-3 as well because of his solid coverage abilities, but he’ll have to play in space more often, and that could hurt him. He has to rely on his overall football knowledge and ability more so than his athleticism or lack thereof.
Sheppard could rise up draft boards, but his best fit is in the fourth round to be drafted as a project to groom. A team like Cleveland, Philadelphia, Denver, Chicago or Minnesota could look to select him as he could be a very good pro linebacker with the right coaching and work in the weight room.
NFL Comparison: Stewart Bradley "
Positive: Stout, run-defending linebacker with the ability to play in a variety of systems. Forceful up the field, sells out on the blitz, and flies around the ball trying to make positive plays. Defeats blocks by opposing lineman, scrapes well laterally, and quickly gets to the ball carrier. Takes good angles to the action, wraps up tackling, and is a strong open field tackler. Breaks down well and effectively uses his hands. Remains disciplined with cover assignments. Flashes a burst to the action.
Negative: Not smooth or fluid turning his hips in coverage. Marginal speed in pursuit. Struggles to change direction quickly.
Analysis: Sheppard is one of the better run defending linebackers in this year's draft and a can be used in the middle or on the inside of a 3-4 alignment. He's an underrated prospect who will eventually break into the starting lineup of an NFL roster."
Negatives: Thin build, needs to add some bulk to his frame... Susceptible to misdirection plays, flows with plays well, but can be fooled by end-arounds and counters... Plays too high at times and leaves his lower body open to cut blocks, needs to play lower and use hands to shield off blockers coming in at his ankles... Can get engulfed at the line of scrimmage, needs to be able to scrape across the field or shoot gaps to avoid blockers and get to the ball carrier... Has never been asked to blitz much, mainly a read-and-react linebacker... Limited upside, does everything fairly well, but doesn't appear to have a high ceiling in any particular facet of the game."
Weaknesses: Not explosive and doesn't make big plays. Too many of his tackles come seven yards downfield. A bit stiff and will have problems with man coverage on the next level.
Projection: Two-down LB ideally suited for inside duties in the 3-4, but smart & fast enough to possibly function as a MLB in the 4-3. Likely mid-round pick who will be a fine special-teamer while he hones his skills as a LB."
Sheppard is also one of LSU's most experienced players. He redshirted in 2006, played in all 14 games as a freshman in 2007, was a part-time starter as a sophomore, and has been a full-time starter ever since. The Stone Mountain, GA product has good size at 6'3'' and 240 pounds and he has been clocked as fast as 4.56 in the 40-yard dash. He is a sure tackler and an emotional leader, but he might have to improve his speed just a bit if he wants to be an elite force at the next level. Look for Sheppard to be a third-round selection in the 2011 NFL Draft."
Kelvin Sheppard is a ferocious Defender, and I guy I'll be rooting for.
But his Diagnostic Skills are awful, and he plays with dubious discipline. The combination of the two scare the HELL out of me.
There's plenty of fire and fury to his game, and I think he'll earn his place in this league. But he's trouble.
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