Brandon Shippen left Norristown, Pennsylvania, a two-way player as a cornerback and running back who lacked the weight to stay at the position.
Two years into his career at Temple, he was finding it hard to climb up the CB depth chart. By the time his junior year came around, he had moved over to wide receiver where he broke through and found significant playing time in his final two years.
He landed as a UDFA after the 2016 NFL Draft with the Miami Dolphins, but was unable to land on their practice squad. The Los Angeles Rams signed him at the end of the season on a Reserve/Future contract.
Now with new Head Coach Sean McVay overseeing the position as WR Robert Woods and a pair of draft picks from the 2017 NFL Draft in WR Cooper Kupp and WR Josh Reynolds in after seeing both WR Kenny Britt and WR Brian Quick having departed in free agency, the wide receiver depth chart will look radically different in 2017 than it did in 2016.
Could Shippen be a part of the turnover?
Things are going to be very, very interesting at wide receiver when training camp breaks.
At the top, you’ve got Woods, Kupp and Reynolds as the 2017 additions who earn the benefit of the McVay/Snead stamp of approval. You’ve got two second-year draftees in Pharoh Cooper and Mike Thomas. Tavon Austin is still in the mix, to what degree remains to be determined. You could say the same, albeit to a lesser degree, of Bradley Marquez. There’s a trio of 2016 UDFAs in Paul McRoberts, Marquez North and everyone’s favorite one-career-preseason-game-hero Nelson Spruce. And Shakeir Ryan is the lone UDFA from this year’s crop.
One thing to note, the Rams had a growing WR depth chart over the last three years going from five-wide in 2014 to six in 2015 and expanding to seven WRs on the 53-man last year. As for McVay’s previous employer, the Washington 53-Man Roster Team, they’ve carried six wide receivers for each of the last three seasons.
So if you carry the locks through Austin to include the three 2017 free agency & draft additions, that’s two spots on a six-man depth chart between Cooper, Thomas, Marquez, McRoberts, North, Spruce, Ryan and Shippen.
To training camp, fellas!
Shippen likely enjoys some of the least pressure in this area at the position. Unlike say Cooper and Thomas as draft selections or Spruce or Marquez as UDFAs with higher visibility, Shippens in that final tier.
Chances of Making Final Roster (1/10)
We’re still in the special teams/practice squad period of the roster previews. Shippen likely doesn’t have a route to the 53-man as an offensive piece, but if he can win the battle for special teams looks and maybe make a play here or there in the preseason action or in training camp, perhaps he can make an impression on new Rams WR Coach Eric Yarber and land a contract.