EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants have been watching Sterling Shepard for a long time now. A four-year player and three-year starter at Oklahoma, Shepard is a playmaking wide receiver who's been on their minds for longer than just the past few months worth of pre-draft poking and prodding. They entered this process believing he was among the best -- if not the best -- wide receiver in this draft class. And on Friday night, with the ninth pick of the second round, they selected him.
My take: I'm a sucker for dudes with piles and piles of really good college tape. Shepard had combined totals of 137 catches for 2,258 yards and 16 touchdowns over his final two seasons at Oklahoma. He got better every year. Giants scouting director Marc Ross said he was a guy who'd been making an impression for years -- that he always came away from Oklahoma games impressed, and not just during Shepard's senior year when they were looking at him for this year's draft. Yes, he's 5-foot-10, 194 pounds, but wide receivers can play bigger than their size, and everything about Shepard says he does. You can argue an offensive tackle or a safety would have been a better "need" pick here, and you may be right. But they also needed a wide receiver, and Shepard is just a heck of a football player. Love this pick.
What's it mean for Victor?: You're going to see a lot of forced narratives about Shepard as a similar player to Victor Cruz. I think that's unfair. Shepard is a more accomplished college player than Cruz was and deserves the chance to make his own name. But I can't really control that. I can tell you the Giants still aren't sure Cruz will ever be fully recovered from his knee injury and return to his former levels, and that it's unlikely he's on the team beyond 2016. GM Jerry Reese described Shepard as a slot receiver. Coach Ben McAdoo said he could move around to different spots. He'll be who he'll be, but the hope is that he'll be even better (and last longer) than Cruz.
Bloodlines: Shepard is the son of the late Derrick Shepard, who played wide receiver at Oklahoma from 1983-86 and had a five-year NFL career with Washington, New Orleans and Dallas from 1987-91. Sterling wore No. 3 in college because it was the same number his father wore while there. Derrick Shepard died of a heart attack in 1999 at the age of 35, when Sterling was 6 years old.
What's next: The Giants hold the eighth pick of the third round (No. 71 overall) later Friday night. They would like to come out of that round having augmented their offensive line.