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July 13, 2015

Eagles rookie NFL player comparisons: JaCorey Shepherd edition

Eagles NFL
071315JaCoreyShepherd Orlin Wagner/AP

JaCorey Shepherd's hands are football magnets.

As we continue on with our Eagles rookie NFL player comparisons, we'll now turn to sixth round pick JaCorey Shepherd of Kansas. 

I hadn't really watched much of Shepherd since the beginning of May, but more recently I've had a chance to take a more extensive look at him and came away really impressed. Here are 26 minutes of "All-22" film of Shepherd:


The most obvious takeaway from Shepherd's tape is how many footballs he gets his hands on. In fact, Shepherd had more pass breakups over the last two years than any other cornerback that was selected in the 2015 NFL Draft. And it's not as if Shepherd is only getting a ton of PBUs because he was targeted so frequently. According to PFF, Shepherd also had the lowest percentage of targets completed against him among all drafted CBs in the 2015 draft, at just 38.6%.

Some corners have a knack for locating the football and making a play on the ball. Some don't. Shepherd does.

So why was he drafted in the sixth round? Well, one reason could be the awful 40 times (4.65 and 4.68) he ran at his pro day. Shepherd said he ran those times with a torn hamstring, so perhaps the Eagles will be beneficiaries of his injury. Still, Shepherd was not thought to be a blazer with a pair of healthy hamstrings.

One player he reminds me of is the Packers' Micah Hyde, for the following reasons:

• Unimpressive measurables: Like Shepherd, Hyde doesn't have much in the way of impressive measurables. Hyde measured in at 6'0, 197 at the Combine, which is an inch taller and couple pounds lighter than Shepherd. He ran a slow 4.56 40 time. However, also like Shepherd, his game tape is better than his measurables might suggest.

• Ball recognition: In Hyde's final season at Iowa, he had 14 pass breakups, which is what Shepherd averaged over his last two. Hyde also caught my eye during the 2013 East-West Shrine Game practices, when he was batting down passes all over the field.

Slot corners: Hyde is projected going forward to be the Packers' slot corner, which makes sense because of his lack of long speed. During OTAs, the Eagles had Shepherd mirroring Brandon Boykin in the slot to learn the checks Boykin was making.

• Return ability: Despite their unimpressive timed speed, Hyde is a good returner in the NFL. Shepherd may or may not return kicks/punts at the pro level, but he did it at Kansas.

• Sure tacklers: Shepherd is by no means a stud against the run, but he's an effective enough tackler who will get the ball carrier to the ground, and will occasionally lay a nice hit on receivers. Hyde is better (and more physical) against the run than Shepherd, but they're both willing tacklers.

#Culture: Hyde was thought to be a leader on his Iowa teams, and he was an Honor Roll student. And as with just about any Eagles draft pick these days, Shepherd is absolutely a "character guy."

Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski