Will Shipley identified as an NFL draft sleeper by ESPN

Dabo Swinney and the Tigers have had a star running back in their backfield for a long time, with Will Shipley being the latest to depart for the NFL. 

The 2024 NFL draft is fast approaching, and while Shipley is not expected to be one of the first running backs drafted in this class, he has the talent and work ethic to become a star in the NFL for the right team and in the right situation. 

Shipley was a menace in college, running hard, catching out of the backfield, and providing explosive plays for a Clemson offense that seriously lacked it. According to ESPN and their panel of coaches ($$$), Shipley is a sleeper in this draft.

Shipley was a bright spot for Clemson’s offense during a stretch where the unit struggled to find consistent production. He contributed as a runner, a receiver and on returns, where he piled up 904 yards on kickoff runbacks. Shipley had 15 rushing touchdowns in 2022 and became the first ACC player to earn all-league honors at three different positions in the same season. He had 69 receptions in his final two seasons at Clemson.

Here’s what coach had to say:

Very versatile, tough, he can do a lot of things,” an ACC coach said. “He’s a three-down back.” Added an ACC defensive coordinator: “Shipley has special teams return value, but he has elite ball skills. He could be a guy that could catch 40, 50 balls in his rookie years and have production. That’s where he stands out.

I love the assessment here; Shipley could definitely be a three-down back and return special teams value. The only thing holding him back from this is pass blocking, which is something that can be refined at the next level.

During a career that spanned from 2021-23, Shipley totaled 2,747 yards and 31 touchdowns on 526 career rushing attempts and 602 yards and two touchdowns on 85 career receptions in 1,526 offensive snaps over 36 career games (27 starts). During this past season, the junior running back rushed 167 times for 827 yards and five touchdowns . He added 31 catches for 244 yards and two receiving touchdowns in 12 games.

Story originally appeared on Clemson Wire