Giants Player Profile: Sterling Shepard, WR
2019 Season Rewind
2019 Season Rewind
In between 57 catches for 576 yards and three touchdowns, wide receiver Sterling Shepard's 2019 season was defined by unsettling injuries.
Shepard suffered two concussions in the first five weeks of the season. The first came in Week 1 in Dallas, and sidelined Shepard for one game, as he was back in the lineup by Week 3 to catch nine passes for 76 yards against the Buccaneers.
Then in Week 5 against the Vikings, Shepard suffered the second concussion as the Giants lost 28-10, in the first of a nine-game losing streak.
The prospect of the receiver retiring at the age of 26 became a legitimate conversation. However, Shepherd returned in Week 11 to catch five passes against the Chicago Bears and was fine the rest of the way, adding 294 yards and two touchdowns across the final five games of the season.
With the retirement of quarterback Eli Manning, Shepard will be the longest-tenured player on the Giants' roster heading into 2020.
But there are two significant questions surrounding Shepard. The first, as already discussed, is his health. If the unthinkable happens and he suffers another head injury, that could likely spell the end of his career.
But let's talk about his production. When healthy, Shepard is one of the best options the Giants have in the slot, and it's not even close. In four seasons, 16 of Shepard's 17 touchdown receptions have come from the slot, per data drawn from Pro Football Focus.
The problem though is that Shepard's targets in the slot have progressively decreased since his rookie season when he was targeted a whopping 92 times from the slot. In subsequent years, his slot targets have dropped from 71 to 42 last year, and with it his scoring potential.
That begs the question as to whether Shepard, who last off-season received a four-year, $41 million contract extension, is an ideal fit on the perimeter. The production seems to indicate it's not, but can new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett's scheme address that?
And if so, might that lessen his injury risk?
There is one other statistic that Shepard must work to reduce starting this year, and that's dropped passes. In four seasons, he has 23 dropped passes or six percent of his pass targets.
Twice, he's topped out at eight drops. That's not a statistic you want to see from a guy who is competing to be the No. 1 receiving target.