Wide Receiver #3
Senior 5’10” 194
- reliable target with just eight drops of 241 targets (3.3% drop rate).
- incredible hip quickness to jab his way open on double moves making cornerbacks bite hard
- impressive ball skills high pointing the football and adjusting to the ball in the air
- athletically, shows great hip flexibility and balance that is displayed in an out of cuts with excellent body control
- not impressive upper body strength relying more on quickness and speed to get open
- ran a diverse route tree and ran them to perfection – but can get too cute trying to show off with moves messing with the timing of the route going away from the KISS method of getting open
- smaller frame limits his catch radius but he makes the most of it when ball is thrown in front of him
- hands catcher with natural hands and awareness to quickly tuck the ball away to avoid turnovers
- willing blocker that loves to hit and will make sure the player knows who hit him
- fielded 30 punts as a returner
- Senior Bowl participant
Sterling Shepard followed in his father’s footsteps, Derrick, making a name for himself overshadowing his father’s success at Oklahoma. Shepard finished his football career at Oklahoma second in school history in receptions (233) and receiving yards (3,482) and third in receiving touchdowns (26). His production speaks for itself and his electric play on the field proves its worth. Shepard was a 2015 First Team All-American selection by ESPN.com and was a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist. Having played in 50 games and starting 41, Shepard has the experience and success that is always key in moving forward to the NFL.
Shepard’s feisty attitude and determination makes his disadvantage in the size department go unnoticed playing with a confident competitive attitude to be the best he can be in each rep. Athletically, Shepard is among the best in college football having great flexibility and balance in and out of cuts and breaks keeping his feet with no missteps due to elite body control. Being an undersized receiver, he has to capitalize more on his explosiveness and elusiveness to gain the necessary separation as he doesn’t possess the appropriate upper body strength to get off press coverage (limited experience in press coverage because lack of Big 12 defenses running that scheme) but doesn’t back down from the physical challenge.
Shepard’s dependability as a pass catcher is attractive heading into April. His low drop rate and diverse route tree alone can separate him from the others and should easily be considered as the top slot receiver in this class but can also play on the outside as a vertical threat. Overall, Shepard is quick as a hiccup and should excel as a slot receiver at the next level. His high football IQ and football background only serve as advantages going forward regardless of his smaller frame.
Round Grade: Second Round (Top 50 Player)
NFL Comparison: Steve Smith
Putting critics to shame when saying their smaller size limits their ability, Smith and Shepard draw an easy comparison. The quick twitch ability to get open and outplaying his frame with a feisty and competitive attitude is what made a successful career for Smith. Shepard has similar qualities and should make a significant impact early like another comparison in Tyler Lockett.