Being a wide receiver is an art. When scouting a wideout, the fundamentals are a must—speed, quickness, route running, body control, and hands.
Guys like Notre Dame's Golden Tate and Texas' Jordan Shipley are arguably the two most productive wide receivers in college football. However, they emulate entirely different skill sets and thrive in entirely different offenses.
When you break down Jordan Shipley as a wideout, you have to start with his speed. He has top-level speed as a deep threat on the outside, which caused many to believe that he would thrive this season, replacing Quan Cosby as the outside threat.
What differentiates him from the other guys is his lateral quickness. Shipley is among the elite top five in the country at getting up to full speed right out of his break. This allows him to get separation each time he cuts.
Pair that with his elite body control and excellent route running, and this is why Shipley is the go-to guy on third downs. Notice how level his shoulders are when he makes this double move.
Many critics argue that a large volume of Shipley's receptions are because the routes are fewer than 10 yards. This is another example of his route running ability. He runs such crisp routes that he has no problem getting open just a few paces off the line of scrimmage.
When you break down the numbers, Shipley has absolutely exploded since becoming healthy in 2008. After 10 games, Shipley has 81 grabs for 1096 yards and eight TDs.
What doesn't make the stat line is the attention Shipley has received. The Texas running game is nothing to call home about. That makes things hard on both McCoy and Shipley. Regardless of any variables, one thing is a fact; Colt McCoy is the most accurate quarterback in college football history—thanks to the hands of Jordan Shipley.
No doubt Shipley's production speaks for his skill set, but his value as a special teams player is second to none. Whether it's the timely touchdown return against OU last year (down 14-3), or the punt return TD against Texas Tech in 2008 (down 33-14), or when he snuck for a first down on a fake field goal against Kansas.
If I need a big-time No. 1 wide receiver, I'm picking Shipley every time over Golden Tate.
The reasoning is simple.
Tate has excelled this season but he's not the best wideout on his team. Michael Floyd (when healthy) and Kyle Rudolph are Jimmy Clausen's first and second options. The only games in which Golden Tate has had significant production are those in which Clausen has been forced to throw the ball.
This is why the Irish are only 3-4 when Tate goes off, compared to Shipley and Texas who have comfortable margins of victory when Shipley performs and nail-biters when Shipley does not.
If anything, the verdict is still out on Golden Tate, but with a healthy Michael Floyd, Tate remains the third option in South Bend.
Now read why Dan Scofield believes Golden Tate has the edge.