The New York Giants signed former New York Jet Brandon Marshall to a two-year contract worth $12 million, earlier this offseason.
The signing bolstered a receiving corps that saw a significant drop-off after the almighty Odell Beckham Jr., and adding a former No. 1 wide-out adds serious potential for an offense that struggled to score points in 2016.
Red-zone production was one of the areas the Giants struggled to succeed in, which will surely see a boost after adding 6-foot-4, 230-pound Marshall to the mix.
But, despite Marshall's intangibles, second-year receiver Sterling Shepard is creeping up the depth chart and could supplant Marshall as the No. 2 by next season.
As a rookie, Shepard was a bright light on a floundering offense, scoring eight touchdowns and racking up 683-yards, according to ESPN.com.
The young Oklahoma product caught everything thrown his way during OTAs and minicamp. He was making plays all around the Quest Diagnostic Training Complex, proving why he's capable of handling the load he deserves.
He's been Eli Manning's favorite target throughout the offseason, and will surely carry that into the Prime Time match-up against Dallas in week one.
Shepard has become a forgotten man after the signing of Marshall, but his skill is undeniable and his red-zone production in 2016 was the only reason the G-Men even put points on the board in some games.
WHAT HE NEEDS TO IMPROVE:
Shepard hauled in a sufficient number of catches in 2016 (65 catches), but he needs to improve in yards after the catch.
He would often go down or get tackled immediately after catching the ball, which can create issues down the line. That has been his main focus so far this offseason; looking much quicker and stronger.
OBJ had a few nice things to say about his understudy stating, “He has such a bright future ahead of him and he puts that smile on your face. It reminds me of when I was young, it was my second year in the league, and you are just so happy to be here and to be happy to do what he is doing, so it is reassuring to see that from him.”
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With the support of an all-world talent behind him, and a coaching staff capable of developing players into stars, Shepard's future is surely bright.
Let's hope he can make the jump from good to great in 2017.