Unpacking Future Packers: No. 87, Clemson RB Will Shipley

The Unpacking Future Packers Countdown is a countdown of 100 prospects that could be selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 2024 NFL draft.

With AJ Dillon set to hit the open market and Aaron Jones entering the final year of his contract, the Green Bay Packers will need to add a running back or two in the 2024 NFL Draft.

A player that Brian Gutekunst could target in the 2024 NFL Draft to round out the running back room behind Jones is Will Shipley. The Clemson running back checks in at No. 87 in the Unpacking Future Packers Countdown.

A five-star recruit, Shipley rushed for 739 yards and 11 touchdowns during his freshman campaign in 2021. The following season, Shipley rushed for 1,182 yards, 15 touchdowns and added 38 receptions for 242 yards. 

This past season, the Clemson running back rushed for 827 yards and five touchdowns. He added 31 receptions for 244 yards and two touchdowns.

“Shipley was the heart and soul of the Clemson offense for three years,” Alex Turri, the editor for Clemson Wire, said. “While it wasn’t the best offense we’ve seen during the Dabo Swinney era, Shipley burst onto the scene his freshman year and proved he was the Tigers’ top offensive threat. To have talent is one thing, but it is his attitude and energy that truly made him special in this Clemson offense. Shipley was the focal point of Clemson’s offense, but much more than just that. He was the guy who left it all out there and brought energy and emotion to a Clemson offense that, at times, felt near-emotionless. The Tigers will miss his impact in 2024 on and off the field.”

Shipley is a leader and a player that a running backs coach may be pounding the table for when Day 3 of the draft rolls around. He’s effective in the passing game, he can churn out explosive plays on the ground and he’ll be a welcome addition to any locker room. He was a 4.0 student during his time at Clemson and he was named to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.

“Shipley has a lot of talent, but his greatest strength comes in the intangibles,” Turri said. “I guarantee you that if you scour the entire pool of players who have declared for the 2024 NFL draft, you will find few, if any, who work as hard as Shipley and bring that much commitment, energy, and dedication. NFL scouts look at a ton of different things when assessing a running back. Speed, vision, explosiveness, pass blocking, and so on, but they also look for the things you can’t teach. Shipley is a coach’s dream running back when it comes to those intangibles.”

Over the past two seasons, Shipley hauled in 69 receptions. He has reliable hands and is capable of lining up in the slot. He’s able to pluck the ball away from his frame and quickly transition from catcher to runner. 

“As a pass catcher, Shipley has the potential to be elite,” Turri said. “He has phenomenal hands and great vision and is explosive after the catch. There will be no concerns with Shipley regarding work out of the backfield, but his pass-blocking needs serious work. Shipley has struggled with pass blocking throughout his career at Clemson, and it showed once again during the 2023 season. Shipley’s clear path to playing time in the NFL is as a change of pace, pass-catching running back, but for that to happen, he will need to make legitimate strides in pass blocking.”

Shipley has good field vision and is a patient runner. He’s got quick, coordinated feet and accelerates quickly through the hole. Once he clears the hole, Shipley showcases good burst in the open field. He sets up defenders for whiffs due to his electric lower half. 

“Shipley simply made everything he did look like it came easy to him,” Turri said. “When watching Shipley, at times, I felt like I was watching vintage LeSean McCoy. There is something so smooth about the way Shipley runs, and if you watch his tape, you’ll see what I mean. Natural is the keyword I’d use to describe his running style, as it’s simply textbook.”

Fit with the Packers

Every running back room could use a player like Shipley. A former track athlete, Shipley has some home-run ability and is capable of ripping off explosive plays. On top of that, he’s a weapon in the passing game. He’ll also bring some semblance of special teams value, as he has limited experience as a kick returner. 

While he’s a running back that you probably don’t want to give 20 carriers a game, he’s got the skill set to carve out a role at the next level. 

“As I said before, talent is one thing, but attitude and energy are a whole different thing,” Turri said. “Even if you’re not getting a superstar running back out of Shipley, even if you’re not getting a game changer out of Shipley, even if you’re not getting a consistent running back out of Shipley, you’re getting a guy who will give his all for the team and work harder than anybody. If I were a GM, I would be looking to draft a team of guys like Will Shipley because when it comes down to it, he is going to do the work needed for a team to succeed.”

The Packers will need to add pieces to the running back room this offseason and may have to start thinking about life after Jones. 

While Shipley isn’t the most powerful or dynamic back. He has the potential to carve out a role as a change of pace back with his pass-catching upside and his burst as a runner.

Story originally appeared on Packers Wire