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Eli Manning hopes Shepard is 'young Victor Cruz'

The New York Giants have searched for a second fiddle to Odell Beckham Jr. since Victor Cruz suffered a devastating knee injury in 2014. Big Blue hopes second-round pick Sterling Shepard can finally plug that spot.

Eli Manning is impressed after some light work with the rookie.

"He's a guy who is shifty and athletic,'' Manning said Monday night, via the New York Post. "It's tough to say from six routes on air. But I hope he is a young Victor Cruz."

The Young Victor Cruz comparison is one general manager Jerry Reese also made after selecting the Oklahoma product. With an uncoverable OBJ on one side, if Shepard comes close to the appraisal, he will see a ton of balls this fall.

The New York Post also reported that Manning ate lunch with Shepard at the facility (aside: The Post never leaves a stone unturned).

"He seems like a very sharp kid, a good kid,'' Manning said. "He seemed to catch the ball very naturally and run routes, so I'm excited. He seems like a good play-maker and I'm excited to get to work with him and see what he can do.''

Throughout his career, Manning has milked production out of receivers who have gone on to do little else after leaving Eli -- Mario Manningham, Steve Smith (the other one), Hakeem Nicks, to name three.

Manning believes that not only can the 'Young Victor Cruz' make an impact in 2016, but that the actual Victor Cruz could return to form.

"Having Victor back running routes is exciting and having all the weapons out there on the field gets you excited for the upcoming season,'' Manning said.

We're still skeptical of how much Cruz can return to his old, salsa-dancing self, but with Shepard waiting in the wings, perhaps Manning finally found a new No. 2 receiver.

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