COLLINS, SHEPARD NAMED FUTURE TOP-SELLING STARS
BY DAN SALOMONE
The future of the New York Giants is in good hands, and so is the league's.
The NFL Players Association recently ranked safety Landon Collins and wide receiver Sterling Shepard on its annual Rising 50 list, which looks at the future top-selling stars of the league. Collins came in at No. 35, and Shepard finished just above him at No. 28.
According to the NFLPA, it "considers on-field performances during the 2016 season, early demand from current partners, fantasy league popularity and new faces in strong markets as factors for sales popularity analysis."
Both Collins and Shepard made names for themselves in 2016.
After earning valuable experience as a 16-game starter in his rookie season, Collins was looking to break out entering his sophomore year. And that's just what he did.
Collins ended the season as the only player in NFL history to have 100 or more solo tackles, and at least 2.0 sacks, five interceptions, and 12 passes defensed. Collins' 125 tackles were the most by a safety in Giants history. Along with defensive tackle Damon Harrison, Collins earned first-team All-Pro honors, the team's first such recognition since defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul in 2011.
Meanwhile, Shepard got right to work as the Giants' second-round pick out of Oklahoma. He finished second to only Odell Beckham Jr. on the team with 65 catches (third in franchise history for a rookie) for 683 yards (fifth) and eight touchdowns (tied for third).
Shepard's 65 receptions placed him second among NFL rookies behind the Saints' Michael Thomas, who had 92. Thomas was No. 29 on the Rising 50, one spot behind Shepard.
Here's a look at the Top 10 players on the NFLPA's Rising 50:
- David Johnson, RB, Cardinals
- Devonta Freeman, RB, Falcons
- Jay Ajayi, RB, Dolphins
- Jordan Howard, RB, Bears
- Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers
- Myles Garrett, DE, Browns
- Brandin Cooks, WR, Patriots
- Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers
- Deshaun Watson, QB, Texans
- Christian McCaffrey, WR, Panthers