Every year there's a slot receiver that everyone loves. He runs great routes, can make people miss and is one that EVERY team could use.
Last year, it was Tyler Lockett. Certain AP writers still can't speak his name without getting misty eyed. Basically, ever since Wes Welker became the New England version of Wes Welker, everyone has been trying to find the next Wes Welker. Speaking of, I see the Chiefs play the Patriots I wish they had a guy like Julian Edelman who can make all the underneath catches to keep the offense moving.
The question becomes how early is too early to draft the next great slot receiver? Generally speaking, you hope to get these guys in the second or third round, not the first. I firmly believe that the Chiefs would have taken Lockett had he been there for their third round pick.
I've always made the case that value only matters on draft day, and it only matters to guys like Mel Kiper. If it's the right guy for your team, and he's not going to be there the next time you pick ... take him. Even if the experts think it's a reach.
Bring it forward to Oklahoma WR Sterling Shepard, a guy that would be amazing for a late second round pick but isn't a projected first round pick.
Potential fit with Chiefs
The Chiefs have been in the wide receiver market pretty much as long as I've been an adult. I remember hoping for a guy to play across from Bowe , then to replace Bowe and now across from Maclin ... you get the idea. I remember briefly getting excited about the prospects of (NSFW list coming) Lance Long, Ashley Lelie, Amani Toomer, Weston Dressler, Dexter McCluster and Devon Wylie. Chiefs fans are consistently disappointed here.
The 2016 Chiefs will feature Jeremy Maclin, who is great for the Chiefs and then a bunch of upside guys. None are ideal slot WRs, though we think Albert Wilson could be good there, and Rod Streater could play inside as well. The real incumbent in the slot is probably De'Anthony Thomas, whose status with the team is unclear.
So, a guy like Shepard, who can be a great outlet for Alex Smith, help move the chains, and even take over as a punt returner, could be a very nice addition to this offense. We all know Andy Reid loves the WR screen, and Shepard looks like he could execute that AND be a strong blocker for Jamaal Charles, Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce on screen passes.
Shepard probably isn't a No. 2 outside WR - though I wouldn't rule it out - but he could be a high-volume, reliable slot WR from day one.
4.48 in the 40-yard dash
Top performer among WRs with 20 bench reps and 41" vertical jump
4.35 in the short shuttle and 7.00 in the 3-cone were both good times
5'10, 194 pounds
9 3/4" hands
Reviewing the tape
- Consistently shows good technique blocking. Very willing and able blocker
- Very quick release off of the line
- Lines up in the slot on a regular basis, but does slide outside at times
- Makes people miss
- Very smooth route runner, doesn't look like he's going as fast as he actually is
- Stronger than you'd expect when going after contested catches
- Absolutely levels a guy on a block for a QB on the run
- Shows ability to be a QB's friend - breaks off his routes to be an outlet when QB scrambles, which is of increasing importance in KC
- His blocking shows up again and again
- Can win with speed deep, sitting down vs zone, and with precise routes
- Noted slants, screens, crossing routes and deep posts
- Had a great back shoulder catch
- Sharp cuts at full speed
- Strong hands catcher
- Looks like he's more quick than fast ... can separate underneath, but not as much deep
- Took an end around and looked very fast
- Could have had much better numbers if QB play was better
- Looks good as a punt returner
- Shows some wiggle
- Extremely polished route runner. Gets himself open with precision
- Good but not elite speed or quickness
- Showed he can run past a CB off the line, but it's not his strength
- Had a couple of missed catches in traffic - tipped balls, defender draped on him. Not drops but missed opportunities
- Had a great catch on the sideline around where he came back to the QB when the play broke down, gets feet down in bounds
- Caught an end zone fade to tie the game with 40 seconds left
- Then a big catch in OT on a crossing pattern to set up the tying score
- THEN tiptoed the sideline on the game winning catch in OT
Where he wins
- Smooth, quick athlete
- Elite route runner
- Great safety net for a QB. Really seems to know how to make himself an outlet when plays break down
- Gets open underneath
- Clutch. Made big plays to tie and win the game vs Tennessee
- Great blocker, especially given his size
- Fearless competitor
- Very good hands. Didn't notice any bad drops in the games I watched
Where he doesn't win
- Doesn't get a ton of separation deep down the field
- Doesn't have elite size or length
- Not explosive on film. Doesn't wow you with big plays (but he does consistently make plays)
- Sometimes dances too much. Puts on more moves than he should need to
Possible NFL comparisons
- What I've heard others say: Wes Welker (of course), Tyler Lockett
- Who I thought of when I watched: Jeremy Maclin (Maclin is a bit faster, though)
- Upside: Antonio Brown
For more on Shepard, there are some good links below