This month, we're going to conduct an in-depth breakdown for each of the Jets' undrafted free agent signings. Today we're moving on to look at offensive lineman Dakoda Shepley.
The 23-year old Shepley, who is listed at 6-foot-5 and 290 pounds, attended college at the University of British Columbia in Canada.
Shepley was a hockey player in high school, until he broke his hand in a ninth grade fight and was recommended to play football instead. He took to the game well and tried to get a scholarship to an NCAA school but eventually ended up attending UBC.
After playing one game in his redshirt year, Shepley was a fixture over the next four seasons, playing a variety of roles. His best season was 2017, where he played right tackle and was a Canada West all-star.
At the end of the season Shepley was able to attend Eastern Michigan's pro day, having already performed well at the CFL combine. The Jets signed him as an undrafted free agent, reportedly with a $10,000 signing bonus.
Shepley was also drafted fifth overall in the 2018 CFL draft, but will pursue his NFL dream with the Jets first.
Now let's look at what Shepley brings to the table, divided into categories.
The first thing to note is that although Shepley is only listed at 290 pounds, he actually weighed 305 during the offseason, so that's probably based on old information.
Shepley put on a good show at the CFL combine with his 27 bench press reps leading all prospects. He was also one of the top linemen in the 40-yard dash, which he ran in 5.27.
He improved on these numbers at the EMU pro day, with 31 reps and a 5.05 40-yard dash. Those numbers would have placed in the top 10 of all offensive linemen at the combine, as would his vertical, broad jump and short shuttle. His three cone drill was below average though.
Shepley (#64) shows some athleticism here by getting out in front of his quarterback on a scramble:
Shepley has played every position on the offensive line while at UBC. He was a right tackle in 2017 but played guard in 2015 and 2016. He's also played some center.
Experts at the CFL combine were speculating that he could play left tackle at the CFL level, but he's being tried out initially at guard with the Jets.
Shepley gets up into his stance, mirrors pass rushers well and locks onto his block in pass protection with the strength to drive his man out of the play. He's rarely troubled, which is a symptom of the fact he would have been facing lower level competition.
He's often the aggressor in pass protection, engaging early and trying to move his man back with an initial punch. He'll also stay on the block as you can see:
Whenever the opportunity presents itself Shepley will take his man down even when playing at tackle. You get the impression he's more comfortable inside as he can handle blocking "in the phone booth".
Even where Shepley was beaten, this rarely seemed to be cleanly as if he lost a leverage advantage he still managed to stay on the block to redirect or slow down the pursuit of the quarterback.
As you'd expect, Shepley was a dominant run blocker at the collegiate level and this will be something the Jets will be eager to work with.
Here's a play where he showcases his power by driving his man well off the line:
On this play, Shepley displays some nastiness with a pancake block as he pulls to the left:
On this block, he initially double-teams to set the edge and then controls his block and drives his man to the inside to create a huge lane on the outside.
Although Shepley was able to dominate at the collegiate level because he's so athletic and strong, the Jets will know that there's a good chance he'd need to sharpen up his technique to be able to hold his own against NFL-level players.
However, we got a sneak peak of the sort of challenge he'd be facing when he played against David Onyemata when Manitoba faced UBC in 2015. Onyemata is a fourth round pick who started six games for the Saints last year and recorded 38 tackles and two sacks. Shepley has said Onyemata is the best player he's ever faced.
Watching some of the footage from that match-up shows where Shepley might need to sharpen up his technique. On this first play, he initially double teams before peeling off, but his double team block is ineffective and he vacates before his teammate has control of Onyemata:
On this play, Onyemata uses quickness to get off Shepley's block but also works around him with an arm over move that renders Shepley unable to recover the leverage advantage:
Shepley does have good feet, especially in pass protection and he says he's carefully studied sumo wrestlers to learn about leverage, balance and hand placement techniques. Despite this, he has apparently never actually wrestled himself because he didn't want to risk injury.
Shepley had a few penalties in the games for which footage was available, one for holding and one for unsportsmanlike conduct. On some of the plays where he pulled his man to the ground, they could potentially have been holding calls at the NFL level.
You wouldn't expect an offensive lineman to contribute much on special teams, other than blocking on the placekicking unit, although an athletic lineman like Shepley could in theory be employed as a wedge-style blocker on the kick return unit.
Here's one really impressive special teams highlight from him as he chases down a field goal attempt that fell short and makes a tackle on the return:
Shepley seemed to handle his assignments pretty well, although in pass protection he was often just blocking one-on-one.
He did have issues at times when picking up stunts and the protection was messed up on some plays, although that's not necessarily his fault. On this play, he is late picking up Onyemata, leading to a sack:
Shepley is regarded by those close to him as a gentle giant, but he flashes some nastiness on the field and will play to the whistle. He takes his man down aggressively on this play:
Based on his social media interactions since joining the team, he seems to be a fun-loving guy and a popular teammate.
Other than that broken hand in high school, Shepley doesn't seem to have had any injury problems.
Shepley seems likely to be a project and his positional versatility gives the team some flexibility in terms of which role he settles into.
As noted, he is working as a guard at the moment and has the size and athletic ability to work well within a zone blocking scheme, although he seemed to be in more of a man/power system at UBC.
Shepley is a player the Jets obviously discovered through their no-stone-unturned philosophy as he wasn't regarded as a likely NFL prospect until very late in the process. In fact, he was only ranked as the 11th-best offensive line prospect in the Canadian draft before the CFL combine, although his performance did elevate him to third-best.
It seems inevitable that Shepley will be raw and therefore we can probably expect him to be a longer-term project, much like fellow Canadian Geoff Gray, who spent time on the Jets' practice squad last year but is now with the Browns.
On the whole, Shepley's athletic ability and some of his film in terms of run blocking and pass protection are impressive, but it will obviously be a challenge for him to step up to the NFL level.