It went defense, defense, defense for the Bills on the first two days of the NFL draft as Buffalo followed up their selection of DL Marcell Dareus on day one with a top five cornerback in Aaron Williams and in round three a thumper of an inside linebacker in LSU’s Kelvin Sheppard on day two.
Sheppard was a prospect with whom the Bills were very familiar. Naturally their scouting department had a firm working knowledge of the LSU product, but so did the coaching staff. Sheppard played linebacker at the Senior Bowl for Chan Gailey’s South team and put together a monster week endearing him to the Buffalo staff.
“He played sideline to sideline at the Senior Bowl better than he did sometimes on tape,” said Gailey. “We were really able to see his speed there. He made all conference and we heard some good things about him, but we also heard there were some limitations with him running sideline to sideline and we saw just the opposite. We saw him make plays all over the field and that was eye-opening for us.”
The LSU product heard the same talk and was determined to prove he was not an inside linebacker with limited range.
“I wanted to show my range sideline to sideline and show I was more than just a between the tackles guy,” Sheppard said. “That’s what I heard. The people around me got the word to me so I worked hard to get bigger, but at the same time make sure my lateral sideline to sideline was in place so I could show off some of my skills.”
Buffalo also hosted Sheppard for a pre-draft visit where they put him on the board to assess his football smarts, and by coach Gailey’s account he fared well.
“We had a really good visit here testing his knowledge seeing where he was as far as an overall football player understanding everything that we’re trying to get done,” he said.
“That’s in my opinion one of the biggest assets to my game, being able to get a playbook on Monday and by Tuesday be able to spit it back out on the field and help out like I did at LSU the young guys,” said Sheppard. “Well now I’m the young guy so hopefully I can get in there and learn the playbook and show the veterans that I’m serious, calling plays, making checks and doing all the right things.”
Sheppard was LSU’s leading tackler in each of his two full seasons as a starter with over 100 tackles in 2009 and 2010, which also ranked third best in the SEC the last two years. A team captain this past season and a 1st Team All-SEC performer, Sheppard was the unquestioned emotional leader of the Tigers defense as he earned
“The feeling I get before a game I can’t even put it into words,” he said. “I’ve been playing the game of football ever since I was five-years old and it means everything to me. The feeling after a victory is like no other in my opinion. And I just take that into the game and I try to spread it throughout my team and my teammates.
“I see we’ve got big Marcell up front in front of me now, so I’m going to try to get his big butt fired up so he can keep the linemen off me.”
“He is a bright-eyed enthusiastic football player,” said Gailey. “The emotional part of the game is one of his fortes. He brings emotion to the football field. He was excited when we talked to him about having the opportunity to be a Buffalo Bill.”