by J.T. Toth
Photo courtesy of The Vanderbilt Hustler.
The NFL Draft talk never ends and we here at Draft 412 will keep you ready for the next set of gridiron stars. From today until draft night 2024 we will bring you mocks, profiles, team needs, and everything else related to the 2024 NFL Draft.
Today’s Spotlight -Vanderbilt, Wide Receiver, Will Sheppard
Name- Will Sheppard
HT/WT- 6’3” 198 lbs.
Home – Mandeville, LA
Will Sheppard was a 3-star recruit out of Mandeville High School in Louisiana. He had a very productive senior season, hauling in 62 catches for 1,276 yards and 24 touchdowns. He was named all-conference and all-region in both 2018 and 2019 for his stellar performance. He also lettered in basketball and track and field and committed to Vanderbilt to play football during his senior year.
As a freshman in 2020, Sheppard played in 8 games, mostly on special teams and finished the season with 2 receptions for 30 yards.
Sheppard worked his way into the starting lineup in game 1 as a sophomore and has never looked back. He started and played all 11 games and snared 43 passes for 560 yards and 4 touchdowns in his breakout season.
Last season, he continued to improve and was named all-SEC second team after he finished the season with 60 receptions for 776 yards and 9 touchdowns for the Commodores.
This season, he entered the season as a preseason second team All-SEC and has continued being a rising star for Vanderbilt. In 11 games, he has 45 catches for 640 yards and 8 touchdown receptions.
Sheppard is a competitive receiver who does whatever it takes to get his hands on the football, regardless of putting himself in vulnerable positions. He is able to take a quick pass and get the most out of it. He has tremendous vision after catching a pass and instantly becomes a running back. Sheppard tracks the ball well and has a good habit of not showing that the ball is coming until the latest possible moment, making it hard for defensive backs to defend. He is a strong receiver who gets off the line of scrimmage quickly against press defenses and has a toolbox of double moves and changing speeds, keeping defensive backs on their heels.
On the downside, Sheppard has issues with concentration and drops and tends to want to make a move without having the ball secured. With Vanderbilt’s offense, he has run a limited route tree compared to other top prospects and will have to show he can adjust during the combine and Senior Bowl games. He has just average speed and will not be able to beat most NFL defensive backs with his straight line speed as he does in college. He is a more reliable receiver down the sideline than he is coming back to the ball.
Draft 412 compares Will Sheppard to Chris Moore who was a 4th round pick in 2016 out of Cincinnati University. They both have decent speed but won’t beat DB’s with just a straight line speed. Moore had some concentration issues while playing for the Bearcats but had enough upside to still be selected in the mid rounds. Sheppard will need to perform well in postseason events to help his overall draft grade.
Over the shoulder catches
Coming back to the ball
Will Sheppard has been a consistent performer over the past 3 seasons for Vanderbilt. The fact that he has had some success in the SEC could help his overall draft grade when being compared to other prospects with similar attributes.
Draft 412 Draft Prediction - 5th or 6th round