Not much has been made clear over the Green Bay Packers’ last two preseason games – and that’s okay because it’s the preseason – but one thing is certain: wide out Darrius Shepherd is doing everything he can to make this team.

In fact, as things currently stand, it seems likely that Shepherd will make the final 53-man roster.

So let’s answer this question before it comes up: Who the heck is Darrius Shepherd?

That’s a good question and it wouldn’t be a surprise if many Green Bay fans don’t necessarily know who No. 10 in the green and gold is.

After all, this is an offense that revolves around Aaron Rodgers, David Bakhtiari, and Davante Adams. Most other players at this point (outside of perhaps Aaron Jones) are simply role players doing their best to make plays for the Packers. Also, an undrafted rookie wide receiver is usually not going to receive a lot of attention in any camp, let alone in one that features the aforementioned offensive stars, but that’s especially true in Green Bay – where the depth chart is incredibly deep at receiver.

Behind Adams is Geronimo Allison, who’s poised for a breakout year, and the Packers have a lot invested in the success of last year’s draft picks: Marquez Vales-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown. J’Mon Moore, also part of that draft class, is firmly on the bubble, but he’s a very interesting talent, and fan-favorite Jake Kumerow appears to be a lock for the team after two great preseason games and a steady camp.

That leaves Shepherd in a group that includes Allen Lazard, who’s also playing well, return specialist Trevor Davis, Teo Redding, and Malik Taylor. You can throw Moore on this bubble list as well because he’s had a forgettable camp so far and can’t seem to catch the ball.

These are all players who have flashed some talent, but will have an uphill battle to make the team with perhaps only six spots available for wide receivers this season – and at the most seven.

Adams, Allison, MVS, and EQ are all hands-down locks and you can now throw Kumerow on that list as well. That’s five out of an assumed six spots taken right off the bat, which leaves one and at the most two roster spots for players like Shepherd, Lazard, Davis, Redding, Taylor, and Moore to fight over.

It has been deemed a tight battle in the past, but frankly, after two preseason games, it’s not even close. Shepherd appears to be worthy of the roster.

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So again, who is he?

At 5-foot-11, 188 pounds, the wide receiver from North Dakota State faced long odds coming into this training camp. Not only is he a bit on the smaller side, but he didn’t receive an invite to the NFL Scouting Combine and only is being mentioned right now because the Packers invited him to be part of rookie camp as an undrafted free agent. That was a huge shot, and so far he’s made the most of it.

Why did the Packers take a chance on him?

Well, he didn’t go to Alabama or Clemson, but what he did at NDSU as part of the Missouri Valley Football Conference is certainly worth mentioning. He left school as NDSU’s leading receiver and punt returner over his final three seasons. He was a 2018 All-American as a punt returner and he finished his NDSU career with 188 catches for 2,841 yards and 20 touchdowns over 57 games. He was also part of four NCAA Division I FCS national championships – which is impressive at any level.

Shepherd has the pedigree of a winner and a playmaker and he’s shown that off so far for the Packers. Yes, it’s only the preseason, but he’s still gone out to catch four passes for 25 yards and two touchdowns. He also displayed a spark on special teams against the Ravens, returning two kicks for 51 yards (with a long of 25.5) and two punts for 15 yards (averaging 7.5 yards per return).

Perhaps, that’s the key for Shepherd.

He’s probably not going to find himself starting next to Adams this season, but he’s shown the ability to get open and catch the ball when the play extends and he’s displayed some really nice hands. Throw in the ability to put the Packers in good field position via special teams (something that has been a struggle in recent seasons) and he instantly makes himself more valuable than Moore, Lazard, Redding, and Taylor. Even Davis would have to take a backseat to Shepherd in that regard, because though he has been productive for the Packers in special teams, it appears that Shepherd may bring more as a receiver. His ability to return kicks just makes him the X-Factor that Davis has never been able to consistently be.

Of course, there’s still plenty of time left his preseason and perhaps the Packers will take seven receiver instead of six. Either way, Shepherd has made it clear that no matter how many receivers the Packers end up rostering – he deserves to be one of them.

Before you go, here are my roster predictions for a seven-man wide receiver depth chart.

  1. Adams
  2. Valdes-Scantling
  3. Allison
  4. Kumerow
  5. St. Brown
  6. Shepherd
  7. Lazard