The New York Giants selected wide receiver Sterling Shepard on Friday night with the ninth pick of the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, 40th overall. GM Jerry Reese referred to him as "a young Victor Cruz."
Shepard, 5-foot-10. 194 pounds, caught 86 passes for 1,288 yards last season for the Sooners. Shepard told Giants.com he was "landing in a perfect spot."
Giants General Manager Jerry Reese said the selection of Shepard "was an easy pick for us."
"We think he's going to come in and he's NFL-ready -- ready to play right now," Reese said.
Reese referred to Shepard as "a young Victor Cruz," but also aid he isn't concerned about having three receivers in Shepard, Cruz and Odell Beckham Jr. who are not tall players.
"The one thing about this kid is he's 5-10 and some change, but his strike zone â what we call a strike zone â is bigger than that. He's got a 41-inch vertical jump, he's got big hands...he's a tenacious slot receiver, run after the catch. Get the ball to him quick and he does some nice things after that catch as well," Reese said. "You'd like to have all of them 6'5 that run 4.4 and all that, but it's just not the way it is all the time. ... We think he's plenty tall enough, and we think he's a terrific young receiver."
Head coach Ben McAdoo said there are "similarities" between Shepard and Cruz.
"There are some similarities between he and Victor [Cruz]. There are some similarities that I have seen with some of the guys I have coached in the past in Green Bay," McAdoo said. "He is a high character guy and when you take a look, there may be a little Randall Cobb in him, you see that. He will reach back and pluck the ball the way James Jones did a little bit in Green Bay in the past, so he has that in him; strong, confident hands as far as being a hands catcher but there are some guys out there that he reminds you of."
McAdoo said he anticipates being able to use Shepard, Cruz and Odell Beckham together and move them around in different alignments.
"You look at Odell, he can play inside and outside and Victor can play inside and outside, as well, and Sterling is no different that way," McAdoo said. "He has been productive in the past on the outside, this year he played more on the inside but they need to be flexible that way and they are definitely bright enough to do that and he certainly fits that role for us."
Giants VP of Player Evaluation Marc Ross said of the selection "We're excited. We were waiting for this guy today."
Ross echoed Reese's sentiments in regards to Shepard's height.
"You like 6-5, 200 pounds and run a 4.4 and all that, but this guy overcomes his lack of height with his other skills. He's got a 41-inch vertical. He's competitive to the ball. His catch radius is bigger - he plays bigger than his actual size. His catch radius is where he can go up and get the ball," Ross said. "So short receivers who play small are our concern. Short receivers who play big are not a concern."
Shepard said he disagrees with the notion that his height limits him to being a slot receiver.
"I play so big. A lot of people think that's all I can do is play inside because of my size, but guys like Odell and Victor have proven that that's not the case," Shepard said. "I'm definitely one of those guys that can be bounced around."
Brandon Thorn (@VeteranScout) put his stamp of approval on the pick Friday night.
"He's the best route runner in the class and can play all 3 positions. Ideal slot WR who can get open underneath and become a security blanket for Eli," Thorn said. "Love his competitive toughness as well. He's tough and fearless."
Here is what Dane Brugler of CBS Sports had to say about Shepard in his 2016 Draft Guide:
Shepard has electric feet and looks like an artist with the ball in his hands, creating something impressive. His lack of size and strength will limit him in some areas, but he has above average body control and route savvy, using tempo and multiple gears to get open. Despite his limitations, Shepard is a very natural pass-catcher with the skills to be a YAC monster – can play inside or outside in the NFL, but ideally suited for the slot..
In its draft guide, Pro Football Focus said of Shepard that "His ability on deep passes mean Sterling Shepard isn't limited to purely being a slot player, but he ran 71.1% of his routes from the slot in 2015, racking up 1,015 yards and scoring six touchdowns."
NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock endorsed the selection:
"He's only 5-foot-10, 194 pounds, but he is a competitor, especially in the slot. He also brings value in the returns game. He is one of the most feisty competitors in the entire draft," Mayock said after the pick was announced.
Shepard was the 44th-ranked player on our Consensus Big Board.
Giants' Draft Picks
Draft TV Schedule
More useful links