Glue Hands & “Vertical Target Volume”

April 25th, 2016

Possibly the object of Joe’s second-round prayers

A great crime against Buccaneers’ humanity would be for general manager Jason Licht to ignore the pressing, almost dire need for depth in the wide receiving corps.

Joe won’t play toddler games of pretend about the situation.

That lack of depth probably cost Lovie Smith one or two wins last year and, subsequently, his job. Vincent Jackson went down with two different knee injuries and lost half a season, while Louis Murphy blew out his ACL and had major knee surgery in November.

With K-Y hands Mike Evans getting overworked, and too many targets for Donteea Dye, the Bucs’ passing game needed Viagra but there were no blue pills on the bench.

It was pure bad luck last year, but a scenario like that this season would be inexcusable.

Jackson is 33 years old. Murphy can’t be counted on to return. Dye won’t cut it. Russell Shepard is a special teams ace and purely an emergency receiver. Kenny Bell? Joe might join his giant fan club when he catches his first NFL pass. Adam Humphries is a nice player but strictly as a No. 5 receiver.

Where’s the true No. 3 receiver on the roster? Where’s the true slot threat? Where’s the future after Evans?

Joe will hold Licht’s feet to the fire if he tests fate with his current receiving troops in 2016. In fact, Joe thinks Licht is far too smart for that choice.

If the Bucs draft a defensive end in the first round, then Joe will be found Friday praying to the football gods for a receiver with the next pick. His name is Sterling Shepard, the versatile stud from Oklahoma who maybe, just maybe, is sitting their for the Bucs early in the second round.

Shepard is a considered a slam-dunk NFL slot receiver and a talented punt returner with golden hands.

Behind a paywall at, Shepard was put on a pedestal by the spreadsheet mavens.

Shepard’s downfield metrics are strong at first glance, as he ranked fifth in vertical yards (643), sixth in vertical touchdowns (7), tied for seventh in stretch vertical touchdowns (4) and 18th in stretch vertical yards (315).

What makes those numbers even more powerful is that he tallied them despite placing 34th in vertical targets per game (3.6) and tied for 72nd in stretch vertical targets per game (1.4). One reason for this is Shepard had zero drops on vertical targets, something that only five of the 19 wide receivers with 20 or more vertical receptions were able to do. It isn’t difficult to imagine his productivity moving even higher with a larger vertical target volume.

Nerd jargon aside, Shepard catches the damn football and is considered a polished route runner with major league inside quicks.

He’s dangerous, and he’d make Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans more dangerous, and bring a new dimension to the game of America’s Quarterback, Jameis Winston. ‘

Jameis deserves Shepard. Bucs fans deserve Shepard.


38 Responses to “Glue Hands & “Vertical Target Volume””

  1. feelthepewterpower Says:

    Were likely talking second round with Sheppard…I’ve seen as high as cincy at #24

  2. DallasBuc Says:

    A receiver who can catch too? Absurd!

  3. Nick Says:

    If dolphins are looking to trade up for Zeke Elliott, would love to get there 2nd rounder in return for swapping firsts. Could still get a Lawson or Spence at 13 then could go DB and Sterling with our two 2nd rounders.

  4. Bucsfaninchina Says:

    They call him Tyler Lockett 2.0. That is a very good thing.

  5. SB with Jameis Says:

    An April Christmas is almost here!!
    Go Bucs!

  6. Doctork2 Says:

    sign me up I’m in on this one. 100%.

  7. Lunchbox Says:

    I’d be happy with him, but I’d be happier with Tyler Boyd

  8. DB55 Says:

    Shepard had zero drops on vertical targets, something that only five of the 19 wide receivers with 20 or more vertical receptions were able to do.


    Any idea who the other 4 are? Are any of them in the draft this year?

    Personally I like Humphries in the slot so I’d rather find a #2 guy to replace VJax when he’s gone.

  9. Kalind Says:

    I still think Coleman if he’s there. I’d be for a trade back in rd 2 as well, take Brax Miller and then a DT and CB (hello James Bradberry) in the third. First round being Ogbah of course

  10. BDorry55 Says:

    My favorite player in the entire draft…this kid is a can’t miss…small guy that plays physical and aggressive like a young Steve Smith. He’s also a fantastic character guy with a terrific story. Go get him.

  11. Brent bull/buc Says:

    Id love Lawson and Shepard. Snag a dt and cb in Rds 3 and 4. Don’t get this ot talk. Cherilus and Dotson are fine for now why waste a pick on ot? Also I
    Don’t see drafting a corner in rd 1. There are guys in Rds 2-3.

  12. J-U-N-Y Says:

    meanwhile… had we gotten rid of glennon for an extra 4th , we would’ve gotten more than the peanuts we might get now. The market has saturated again with QBs. Hopefully Litch has a plan for him now.

  13. LargoSamIM Says:

    Joe(s) display a lot of hypocrisy once again in this one ! Time and time again I’ve read that Joe(s), basically, sneer at and detest the “stat nerds”. Yet,it seems as if when it it serves their interest -they are not qfraid to substantiate their opininions base on stats !! … actually makes me laugh !

  14. Patrick in VA Says:

    I’d like to just take a moment to speak to all the posters that have been cruising this site for years now like I have. How much nicer is this draft than any that we’ve had in forever. We not only have QB locked up but we also have a GM that you can trust to make great choices with his picks. We have holes for sure, but you really get the sense that the front office gets it and they’re going to address those holes as best they can with the picks they have. This is the most care free and enjoyable pre-draft experience I can remember. It’s more like waiting to open a present than what has been the standard which is just hoping that we don’t go out there and step on our Johnsons. Good days are coming folks. It’s nice to finally be on the upswing.

  15. CreamsicleBananaHammock Says:

    I’ve said it before on this site, if there’s one guy in this entire draft that I want in pewter & red next year it’s Sterling Shepard. And if it comes down to it, I’d like to see Licht send our 2nd round pick & Glennon to the Broncos so we can pick him at the end of day 1.

    It’s not just the stats Joe listed above. It’s his competitive fire. I think it’s crucial that we surround Jameis Winston with players that share his passion for the game. Shepard fits that bill to a T

  16. MarineBucsFan Says:

    I believe Shepard in the second round is a player that represents where Great Value and Need meet as it relates to the Bucs. There are others but I would be happy with that pick.

  17. Deminion Says:

    haven’t had a legit burner since Galloway !!! underrated buc btw @joe you should do a top underrated bucs list

  18. StPeteBucsFan Says:

    Again agree with your post completely. Like you I think we’ve turned the corner. And agree that Licht is the best GM we’ve had since McKay and Koetter the best coach since Chucky. In fact with all due respect to Chucky I think Koetter will wear better with the players than Chucky. By the end many players were griping about him.

    Again though I think we all underestimate the damage of giving away the first two picks of two drafts in a row compounded by the fact that we had an older team at the time.

    Yeah we’ve made plenty of bonehead picks but really…imagine how excited you’d be if we knew Thursday night we wouldn’t even be picking and not till later even on Friday. Now imagine that we not only have little to look forward to this year but next year is also down the drain. That is a yyyyyuuuggge hole Tampa!!!

    If we hit the draft this year along with last year I believe we’ve finally dug our way out and it only took 14 years…perhaps about right when you take an older team and strip two years of top two picks.

  19. Brian Says:

    PLEASE find me a team that loses two of their top three receivers and doesnt significantly suffer. Come on man. You expect far to much from depth. You are never going to be 5 or 6 deep with starter quality depth. Its never going to happen. No way in hell is there a “dire” need at WR.

  20. Architek Says:

    I agree Joe.

  21. LordCornelius Says:

    Agree with Patrick. I’m just excited not really worried.

    Would love to see us drop back a little bit and get another 2nd. Then Glennon and a 3rd to Broncos for their late 1st. That’d give us 4 picks in top 50 basically lol. DE/DT/WR/CB in whatever order is best value . 10 superbowls in a row

  22. BigPoppaBuc Says:

    One of my favorites along with Boyd in this class… One if the two should be there for us in the second round and I’m hoping Licht jumps on it. At this point I’m hoping for Rankins, then Sheppard or Boyd, then OL and safties in the late rounds.

  23. Erik with Clean Athletics Says:

    I agree Joe. I want Shepard or B Miller…

  24. Alan Bucs Says:

    @Brian: Totally agree! Most teams are affected when their starters go down that is why we pray for minimal injuries. Its good to have quality depth at any position but no team is going to have second and third tier guys that are just as good or better than their starters. I truly believe that people are going to soon realize that having a good quarterback (JW) and good coaching are the key ingredients to success.

  25. Patrick in VA Says:

    On that injury note, I’m a little curious as to why everyone is so freaked about the difficulty of our early schedule. That’ll be the closest we’ll be to full strength so that’s when we want to have the difficult games. The less difficult games need to come later in the season when we’re trying to squeak through with a patch work team. I’m pumped about it.

  26. Bob in Valrico Says:

    agree with joe on his receiver eval.
    also agree with St. pete buc and Patrick in Va. about the future of the bucs.

  27. BoJim Says:

    Vertical targets? Stretch vertical targets? And they get paid for that? Nerd jargon indeed.

  28. Mojiska Says:

    I’d love this guy in the 2ND. But I also want Karl Joseph badly too. Honestly I’m not sold on some first rounders as much as these 2.

  29. Deminion Says:

    get JW more weapons

  30. BDorry55 Says:

    @ Mojiska – hilarious! Shepard and Joseph a are my two favorites in this draft and I can’t pick between them.

  31. LordCornelius Says:

    Joseph looks like a beast at S

    Took Bosa and him in online mock

  32. Jeagan1999 Says:

    I think Shepard or Braxton Miller will be there for the Bucs in Round 2. I’d be thrilled with either one.

  33. StPeteBucsFan Says:


    I agree about Braxton Miller. He may not be an NFL QB but he has NFL athletic talent! He reminds me of Hines Ward although I’m yyuugge Hines Ward fan and so Miller has a long way to go to match Hines but I see similar potential. A QB moving to WR. And imagine if we dared to execute a double pass.

    I’m with you Jeagan I would not be upset to see us draft Miller…an athlete is an athlete and a winner is a winner. If we could get ¾ of Hines Ward we’d be golden.

  34. Pickgrin Says:

    Does anyone really believe that the 2nd or (at worst) 3rd best receiver in the draft will last until pick #39? Sounds like a pipe dream. Same with Spence. Same with Joseph.

  35. Tackleblockwin Says:

    My guess is we wait until 3d day of draft to snag a WR.

  36. Tom Says:

    Got to take Bosa if he is there at 9.

  37. Bill Says:

    @ Brian,

    There is absolutely a dire need at WR. We’re not looking for a solid 4th or 5th…..we’re looking for a solid 3rd.

    Sure, Sheppard or Murphy ‘could’ be that, except they weren’t. We’re not looking for depth, we’re looking for the 2017 starter opposite Evans. Don’t pretend anybody on our roster offers that potential. They don’t. We need a quality WR this year, and another next year. So, yes, it’s a dire need.

  38. DemBoyzFromDaBay727 Says:

    If you were to make up a ideal Receiver for the Bucs Sterling Sheppard would be it. Perfect fit for what we need. Speed in the slot, deep threat, punt returner and most of all l…HE DOESN’T DROP THE BALL!!! yes we have more pressing needs, but if he is there in the 2nd you’ve gotta snag this guy if your Licht.