With many big and physical receivers in the 2010 NFL Draft, it is tough to imagine someone being more productive in a position known as the slot. The slot receiver has become one of the most effective positions in all of football, and if players are used in such a manner they could become very successful for many years.
When players are ready to be drafted into the NFL, the first instinct people have is to compare the player being drafted to a player currently in the NFL. Jordan Shipley, a former standout wide receiver from the University of Texas, is no different.
Shipley has been compared to the Patriots' Wes Welker since 2008. After 89 receptions in 2008, Shipley proved his wealth as a number one receiver in 2009 with 116 receptions. Shipley went over the 1,000-yard mark for the second consecutive season in '09, and was a major contributor to Big 12 Champions on both offense and special teams.
Shipley, a starting receiver, punt returner, and holder, is ready to prove the comparisons to Welker are not only similar, but almost identical. Shipley could only hope to turn into the player that Welker has become, but it won't be easy as even Wes found out.
Welker came out undrafted in 2004, and at 5'9" scouts thought he was too small. Welker was sure-handed in college, where he returned punts as well. Coming out of Texas Tech, Welker played in an open, passing offense—close to the spread offense Shipley has played in over the last four seasons.
After struggling to find his identity, the San Diego Chargers and Miami Dolphins both released Welker. Welker, who was just hoping to make a roster, ended up making second team All-Pro with the New England Patriots. Welker proved that in the right system he could be one of the best in the business.
Jordan Shipley is projecting to be a late round two or round three selection in April's draft. However, how does one get compared to a two time All-Pro and get such little respect in such projections?
Shipley needs to end up in a system as did Wes Welker. Welker is paired with one of the best quarterbacks in the game, along with a wide out that has the ability to go up top and require double coverage. Welker, then, is terrific at catching the ball from the slot position, over the middle, and getting yards after the catch.
The slot receiver position is becoming more and more important as teams start using a spread out, shotgun attack. Shipley could thrive in the right slot position for the right team. Here are five teams that could take Shipley and have an immediate impact slot receiver:
1. Houston Texans: The Texans would be a great fit for many reasons. Of course, based in Houston, Shipley would remain in Texas, where he has lived all of his life. However, the main reason Shipley could thrive in this offense is because of All-Pro Andre Johnson.
The Texans are in dire need of a play maker to go along side of Andre Johnson. Johnson stretches the field and opens the middle for other players, such as tight end Owen Daniels. However, the Texans are missing a speed receiver who can start in the slot and make plays in the middle of the field. Shipley could be a missing link to an already great offense.
2. Dallas Cowboys: With the recent success of Miles Austin, it will make the middle of the field more open for Tony Romo to find receivers. Again, it is almost too much of a perfect fit for a team in Texas to keep Shipley at home.
With Roy Williams on one side, Jason Witten, a top tight end, and Austin streaking down the field, the middle could be wide open for a speedy, sure-handed slot receiver such as Shipley.
3. New England Patriots: The team that brought Wes Welker to prominence could bring Shipley in as well. With uncertainty around Welker's knee for the 2010 season, the Patriots could take Shipley and put the 24-year-old right in the slot position as a rookie.
Shipley is an experienced and smart player who can learn an offense and step in right away. With a vacancy at the slot position to start the season, and a mentor like Welker to help him, Shipley could be packing his bags for New England come April.
4. Detroit Lions: Let's face it, Calvin Johnson is a beast. Johnson requires a double team all over the field, and needs a compliment—or anyone to take the pressure off him.
However, Johnson wouldn't be the player that benefits the most from Shipley. Instead, that would be second year quarterback Mathew Stafford.
Stafford is going to be a big-time player in Detroit. He has a lot of tools and with some time, could turn into a Pro Bowler. However, Stafford needs a Plan B when he is rushed in the pocket, or when Johnson is double—or even triple-teamed.
Shipley could provide a safety valve for Stafford and the Lions future.
5. Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals found a running back for the next couple of years. Cedric Benson provided a much-needed run game for Carson Palmer and head coach Marvin Lewis.
Palmer has top-target Chad Ochocinco, who is coming off a Pro Bowl year. Ochocinco spreads the field well, and, with another older target in Laveranues Coles, Shipley could provide some youth to a veteran receiver corps.
In the playoffs, when Palmer was pressured, Ochocinco was lost on Revis Island, and Coles was efficient, but not great. Shipley could provide a check down target that could put the Bengals offense back to prominence.