As rookie minicamp kicked off Friday afternoon, eyes were peeled on the new draft class that got their first taste wearing the New York Giants helmet.
Second round selection, wide receiver Sterling Shepard, drew much attention as he is expected to make a major impact in his rookie season. Experts say his style of play emulates that of teammate Victor Cruz, and Shepard was humbled by the comparison.
“It’s an honor to be compared to Victor Cruz because he’s a guy I looked up to,” Shepard stated. “Now I’ll be able to play with him. Yes, it was an honor to meet him yesterday.”
Putting on the NFL jersey is always a dream come true for new draftees, but in Shepard’s case, it is somewhat fate. The 22-year-old wore his father, Derrick Shepard’s, No. 3 jersey during his time at Oklahoma. Now, he will daunt No. 87 which by sheer coincidence was his father’s NFL number.
“Actually, I didn’t get to pick it,” Shepard explained. “It’s what they gave me and I guess it was a coincidence that my dad also wore it as well. I kinda wanted a number in the teens, but I’ll just rock with #87.”
The last Giant to “rock” Shepard’s new number was Domenick Hixon who was a target readily available to quarterback Eli Manning during his time in New York. Shepard, who GM Jerry Reese said “plays big,” knows he can be a critical asset mainly because of his work ethic.
“Honestly, it’s because of the weight room,” Shepard said when asked how he “plays big.” “That’s a big thing for me. I stay in the weight room. There are bigger corners who play press coverage in this league and I have to learn how to deal with it. So Being in the weight room is a major key to my success.”
Shepard knows how to use all of his 5-foot-10 frame just like the guy he could be standing opposite to on the line of scrimmage: Odell Beckham Jr. He met Beckham Jr. along with Cruz on Thursday, and with each of them basically the same size on the field, Shepard thinks he can perform just like his teammates.
“You have guys the same size as you and you see them making plays every week,” Shepard said. “So why can’t I?”
The rookie will have a chance to back up this notion when real practice kicks off in the summer, but No. 87 seems ready to be another playmaker hauling in the pigskin when the 2016 season begins.