Malcolm Sheppard highlights as a Sophomore against Alabama
Malcolm Sheppard, the 6’2″ 285 pound rookie DT from Arkansas, has received a lot of attention the past few weeks during Texans OTA’s. Although he’s only been reported at 285lbs, Sheppard has displayed his quickness along with his great leverage at the line of scrimmage. This is very appealing to Texans coaches, who embrace there defensive scheme of having quick and athletic defensive linemen. Sheppard has been practicing with physically similar DTs such as former 1st round pick Amobi Okoye and this year’s 3rd round pick Earl Mitchell.
Sheppard, a senior from the University of Arkansas, was regarded as one of the most consistent DTs in the SEC the past two seasons. Over that span, he recorded 24.5 tackles for a loss along with 8.5 sacks. As a junior, he was named to the 2nd team all-SEC by the AP and coaches, as well as receiving the same honors as a senior by the coaches. He finished his college career with 121 total tackles, 9 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles.
In the 2010 NFL Draft, a total of 23 defensive tackles were selected with the 255 picks. Sheppard wasn’t one of them. He was mainly being projected as being picked between the 4th and 6th rounds. What likely ended up being his undoing was a shoulder injury he suffered in the Liberty Bowl vs East Carolina. Although he has not admitted that his shoulder is 100%, he has almost completed his recovery. Shortly after going undrafted, he signed with the Houston Texans as an undrafted rookie free agent.
During Texans OTA’s, Sheppard has continued to display his quickness off the snap as well as a good grasp of what the coaches want him to do. Head coach Gary Kubiak has stated, “Probably the young kid who has surprised me the most through OTAs and everything has been this Sheppard kid that we got from Arkansas.” Kubiak went on to say that Sheppard will be making a good push to make the team, as well as admitting that Sheppard has exceeded his expectations.
In my opinion, Sheppard will have to beat out 4th year veteran DelJuan Robinson as well as the Texans 2008 5th round pick Frank Okam. Both of these players are much bigger than Sheppard, so he’s going to have to prove to the Texans that he can stuff the run well in the NFL. If he can do that, he should make the team as its last DT. Be sure to watch Sheppard in training camp and the preseason. He could end up being a big steal for the team if he can produce as he did in college.