PROS: Has nice hands and does a good job catching the ball in stride. Uses body to shield defender on short, quick throws like slants and ins. Adjusts well to the ball in the air, tracks it well, and attacks it. Has good body control and can make the diving catch. Is a willing blocker that shows some ability to lock on when working in the slot. Shows good speed and burst and is able to get separation and is a capable route-runner. Works best out of the slot and on shorter routes. Does a good job on screens because he has good concentration, secures ball and has explosive burst after the catch. Works as a kickoff returner and punt returner as well as holder on special teams. Has good straight-line speed and acceleration to hit seem on kickoffs. Able to make first man miss as a punt returner.
CONS: Lacks ideal size and hasn't shown he's as effective when he plays outside or is forced to beat the jam. Thus isn't as effective in traffic when he's confined in close quarters with defender. Rarely gets opportunities to showcase himself as a vertical route-runner and receiver. Needs to improve as a blocker as he'll miss assignments and just gets in the way at other times.
OVERVIEW: Shipley and Colt McCoy were best friends growing up and had a strong rapport at Texas. He was used in almost the same way there as Wes Welker is in New England as a slot receiver.
NFL FORECAST: He can make a smooth transition to the next level for a team that envisions him in the same role as Welker, working predominantly from the slot. He is very good there and there's no reason to mess up a good thing. If teams want to play him outside, I'm not sure he's physical enough to beat the jam. And his success outside will I think depend largely on his ability to polish up his route-running. Right now, he gets by mostly because of his speed and burst and teams rarely try to jam him. But if he were to move outside, I don't think he'd be as lucky. Thus his potential is much more limited there. If he was a No. 2 receiver in a more traditional offense where he would line up outside, I think he'd only be a guy that catches 50 or so passes a year as a starter. But in the slot in a wide-open offense that uses a lot of three-wide sets (like the Patriots), he could be a guy that can produce 80+ catch seasons just like Welker. His value on special teams is also good because he helps field position with his big play potential. It's easy to compare him to Tim Dwight in that way, and while I don't think he's as reckless as Dwight, or has quite his top-speed, he has comparable burst and acceleration. I don't think he's a guy that is going to score a lot of touchdowns as a return threat, but certainly should be productive there. I think he's a better kickoff returner than punt guy because of his good straight-line speed.
ATL FORECAST: Shipley is good enough to give Douglas a run for his money as the slot receiver, especially with Douglas coming off the injury. He's a versatile player that would be hard to keep on the bench. He's good enough to beat out Weems for the return duties, and if Douglas isn't able to pick up where he left off at the end of 2008, then Shipley could quickly surpass him. I wouldn't expect huge production from him as a rookie in Atlanta, but he could certainly give the team 30 receptions right off the bat. And down the road that production should only grow as he could take over for Tony Gonzalez as Ryan's favorite target on third downs to move the chains, a forte of his.
VALUE: For a team that envisions him in a Welker-like role, then I would say he's worth a second round pick. For a team that values him more as a traditional receiver, then he's only worth a fourth round pick.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
AFTER CATCH: 3.5
BODY CONTROL: 4.0
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.