You might not look twice if you saw Sterling Shepard walking down the street. At 5’10, 194 pounds, his stature is not one of a typical NFL player.
Despite his normal stature, Shepard had an explosive presence at the University of Oklahoma. He had an astonishing senior year with 86 receptions for 1,288 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns ranking 3rd in the Big 12 only behind first round picks Corey Coleman and Josh Doctson.
Although Shepard faced great adversity with a college career setback by multiple injuries, he undoubtedly excelled on the field and left his mark on the Oklahoma record book ranking 2nd all time in receiving yards. Despite his relatively small size in terms of NFL standards, Shepard left a monumental impact on a big time, Big 12 program.
Rising players like Shepard are representative of the shift in the NFL. There has been a recent string of smaller athletes tackling the WR position, whereas in the past, the game focused on finding the picturesque WR who could run a 4.4 second 40-yard dash at 6’2, 210-230 pounds.
Now teams are seeking smaller, shifty guys that can get open with their foot speed and quickness. Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, and Shepard’s very own teammate Odell Beckham Jr. have been game changing players for their respective teams and are all under six feet tall.
It is evident that while size is important, it isn’t everything. Shepard has a fiery passion for the game and a desire to constantly improve. Head Coach Ben McAdoo has certainly noticed his work ethic during OTAs.
“The thing about Sterling is he will make a mistake, as a lot of young guys do and a lot of veterans do, but he doesn’t seem like the guy that is going to repeat that mistake. So once he makes a mistake, he will fix it, he will move on, he will learn from it and he is continuing to pick things up and he is doing a nice job right now for us,” McAdoo said.