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In the 2016 NFL Draft, there will be many exciting receivers to choose from: Laquon Treadwell, Josh Doctson, Corey Coleman, Tyler Boyd, and Ohio State’s Michael Thomas to name a few. Thesshepard subject of this article is a smaller, less flashy wide out from Oklahoma aka Sterling Shepard.  To get a better idea of what this promising young man brings to the next level, I reviewed all the games I could find of him: Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, TCU, Clemson, Tennessee (2014 and 2015), and Louisiana Tech (2014).  Here is what I saw:

WR-Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma 5′ 10″ 194 lbs. 

Cons: This will be my shortest criticism in my review of over sixty players for this year’s draft class.  Shepard is on the smaller side of most NFL receivers so he could get bullied by bigger, more physical corners.  He didn’t face much press coverage (most college receivers don’t), so the wide out may need to start out in the slot or sent in motion to give him a free release.

Pros:  The diminutive wide out was very productive in college with 233 receptions and 26 touchdowns.  He is an excellent route runner that uses his quick feet to gain speed (4.48 40-yard dash) and separation.  The former Sooner has soft hands that he uses to pluck the ball at its highest point ( 41″ vertical jump) and can line up out wide or in the slot.  Shepard excels all over the field on screens (usually making the first man miss), crossing routes (showing toughness in the middle of the field), or deeper patterns (finding a way to get behind his coverage).

When he has the ball in the open field, the play maker uses spin moves and takes great angles to get as much yardage as he can.  The wide out tracks the ball well in the air and can run underneath the pigskin to grab it in stride out in front of his body.  Shepard does a good job of coming down with contested passes by shielding the defensive back from the ball.  While he doesn’t shy away from contact, the receiver does protect himself when facing with big hits.  He seems to enjoy blocking and had one of the best bench press performances with twenty reps.  The wide out is also a good kickoff and punt returner with his ability to see the field well and start/stop quickly.

Overall impressions: Shepard is one of the most polished receivers in the last few years, which is why I have Shepard in my top five rookie receivers.  He won’t jump off the screen with amazing athleticism, but the receiver will be at the right spot when his quarterback needs him.  While reviewing his games, the former Sooner reminded me of Emmanuel Sanders in his first year with the Broncos.   Get him in the second round of most rookie drafts and profit.

Thanks for reading!

You can follow me on Twitter @AndrewMiley and/or the site @Dynasty_Blitz. 

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