Instincts/Recognition: The unquestioned leader of one of the best defenses in the country. Made all the pre snap calls and got fellow teammates in the right position. Reads the run well and attacks the line of scrimmage with speed and aggressiveness. Also reads screen passes well, resulting in loss of yardage or minimal gain. LSU defensive coordinator, John Chavis, called Kelvin the most instinctive linebacker he has ever coached. Against teams that ran the option, had some issues finding the ball, which could leave him susceptible to play action at the next level. Also struggles some with misdirection plays. Does get out of control on occasion and over runs plays, allowing cut backs.
Strength/Toughness: At 6’1” 7/8 and 250 pounds, he has the ideal size for the inside linebacker position. Not afraid to get physical and stick his nose in there. Capable of delivering big hits and causing turnovers. Could benefit from more upper body strength, as he struggles to dislodge from bigger offensive linemen. Very experienced and durable during his college career, playing in 53 games. Plays the game with the fire and emotion you like to see from your signal caller.
Range vs Run: Does have issues shedding blocks against the bigger offensive linemen, but is not entirely overmatched. Has the speed to make plays from sideline-to-sideline and will also look to strip the ball from ball carriers. Uses his hands well to sift through traffic, locate the ball, and make tackles. ery stout on short yardage and goal line situations. Has trouble in space against quicker and shiftier backs and receivers. When pursuing ball carriers, needs to become more consistent with staying under control, eliminating cut backs and missed tackles. Does a nice job of keeping his feet while offensive linemen attempt cut blocks. Can make plays behind the line of scrimmage, accumulating 11 tackles for loss in 2010.
Tackling: Overall, does a good job of wrapping up, but will miss a tackle on occasion. Also takes himself out of position at times, causing him to miss tackles he should make. Does not shy away from contact and will “lay the wood” if a big hit presents itself.
3rd Down Capabilities: A little stiff in coverage, but not a liability by any means. Has the speed and athleticism to refine his coverage skills. Reads screen passes very well. Can cover backs out of the backfield. Does a decent job of covering tight ends over the middle and can use his speed to run with them down the seam. When playing zone, knows his responsibilities and keeps his head up when dropping into coverage. Should have no problem being a 3-down linebacker at the next level. Has also lined up at outside linebacker during his career. Doesn’t display dynamic blitzing abilities, but will get to the quarterback on occasion. ends to get swallowed up when blitzing up the middle. Over the years, h has gotten better at disguising and coming on a delayed blitz.
Intangibles: Three year starter at LSU. Team captain in 2010. First Team All-SEC in 2010. Played in 53 games, starting 30 of them. Ranks as the 9th leading tackler in school history with 311. Accumulated over 100 tackles as both a junior and senior. Graduated with a degree in General Studies. Played basketball and ran track in high school. Models his game after San Francisco Linebacker, Patrick Willis.
Overall Stock: Kelvin Sheppard has the size, speed, and athleticism to succeed as an NFL linebacker. He defends the run well and has the range to make plays from sideline-to-sideline. He may need to work on his coverage ability at the next level and learn to not just rely on his speed. Overall, a solid tackler, but does miss a few here and there because of over aggression and poor technique. Kelvin is versatile enough to play either the Middle Linebacker position or the Outside Linebacker position. Love that he plays with a little mean streak. He may not start as a rookie, but in time he could develop into a solid starter at either position. Until then he will be great special teams contributor. Kelvin should be scooped up at some point on Day 2 of the draft.
NFL Comparison: Nick Barnett* * *