The second day of the draft doesn’t have the excitement of the first, but the Giants have a nice history of second-round picks. Michael Strahan, Tiki Barber, Osi Umenyiora, and Chris Snee were all Pro Bowlers for the Giants and all were part of NFC championship teams.
The Giants are hoping that Sterling Shepard, from Oklahoma University, will join those ranks. Big Blue has had some impressive wide receivers that came from second round drafts, including Amani Toomer, Joe Jurevicius and Steve Smith.
Eli Manning will have another target to go along with Victor Cruz and Odell Beckham Jr. The new Giant is looking forward to playing with Beckham Jr.
“I mean that’s one of the guys I look at,” Shepard said. “I look at his game every week and I try to pattern my game after him. I was excited to be able to get drafted by the New York Giants and be able to play alongside him, as well as Victor Cruz – another guy that I look at, too. I’m excited.”
One of the reasons that Shepard, who caught 11 touchdowns as a senior for the Sooners, might still have been available in the second round was his 5’10” 195 pound body.
“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,” said Giants general manager Jerry Reese. “I think that there’s a lot of tall receivers in the Hall of Fame that probably never played in a Super Bowl, if you look at that history. We think he’s plenty tall enough, and we think he’s a terrific young receiver.”
The height factor was also brought up by the Vice President of Player Evaluation. “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,” Marc Ross said. “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. So short receivers who play small and our concern. Short receivers who play big are not a concern.”
The Giants would be thrilled if Shepard could turn into another Cruz. Head coach Ben McAdoo was reminded of Cruz and a few Packers that he worked with. “There are some similarities between he and Victor,” McAdoo said. “There are some similarities that I have seen with some of the guys I have coached in the past in Green Bay. 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 had 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.”
Even Shepard recognized the Cruz connection. “Like I said, that’s one of the guys that I look at a lot,” Shepard said. “Victor Cruz is a great receiver…we’re kind of the same size, same stature. I definitely look up to that guy. I can see some similarities.”
McAdoo, an offensive minded coach, spoke of the adjustments that Shepard will have to make, both in the offensive scheme and dealing with NFL defenses. “Well, I think the offenses are different from where they are coming from,” McAdoo said. “He has been maybe in a little bit more of a pro style offense than some that we see. There will certainly be a little bit of a learning curve for him so that is probably the number one adjustment. We are a little bit different than maybe most because we will spend a lot of time in the no-huddle, so that may help him with the learning curve a little bit. The defenses that he is going to see. He is going to see a lot of big, physical, gifted athletes playing the corner spot. That will be a big adjustment for any receiver coming into the league.”
Some fans might be surprised that the no-huddle could help a young receiver rather than making it too fast for a rookie. “Yeah, I think it streamlines things as far as the information that they get and how they get it,” McAdoo said. “It is a little more visual than it is verbal and some guys learn a little easier that way.”
If Shepard can quickly get the hang of the offense, the Giants have the potential to have an explosive offense next season.