Name: Sterling Shepard
Position: Wide Receiver
Hands: 9 ¾”
Projected: Middle 2nd-Early 3rd
A smooth and polished wide receiver, Shepard may be the purest pass catcher in the NFL Draft.
A fantastic route runner, he plays with the pedal down from start to finish, and he can create separation quickly through his advanced footwork.
Strong and sure-handed, what Shepard lacks in the height department, he makes up for it with his vertical leap and body control.
A fiery competitor, drops have rarely been an issue for Shepard, and character is reportedly among his best attributes.
Shepard will draw the Tyler Lockett comparisons, due to his size and quickness, but he is significantly more fluid as a pass catcher than Lockett is on the field.
The size and catch radius are the easy knocks on Shepard. While he catches anything you put in front of him, his strike zone is smaller than most receivers.
He would be dangerous if put into a quick-throw, 3-step drop style West Coast system, where he can utilize his quickness in the open field, but he can play in any system effectively. He is more quick than fast, and he won’t run away from defenders through straight-line speed, but his footwork is downright elite.
It’s pretty common knowledge at this point that head coach Hue Jackson favors the taller receivers, so Shepard may not be a real option here for the Browns. The Steelers and Ravens both heavily leaned on two receivers last year under six feet tall, Steve Smith and Antonio Brown, so they have seen first-hand that size isn't everything, but only time will tell if Shepard fits in their scheme.
If they can look past his stature, the team will see an NFL-ready dynamic weapon that can dominate the slot or WR2 spot for years to come. While 32 may be too high for the Browns to spend on a 5’10” receiver, if he slips to the 3rd round, he should become a must-pick.
If Shepard were six inches taller, he would be highly regarded as a first round pick, and possibly considered the best wide receiver in the draft this year. With sure hands, physicality and above average strength, Shepard should look to players like Antonio Brown and Steve Smith in his quest to be a WR1 in the league. He may not be a true No. 1, but in the style of the Patriots’ Julian Edelman and the above-mentioned receivers, he can become a focal point of any offense.
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