Our last wide receiver prospect is Laviska Shenault Jr of Colorado. This is a guy that has really opened the eyes of the college football world the past two years and could hear his name called early in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Laviska Shenault Jr. is a game-changer at his position. He has the size and speed every NFL team looks for in a wide receiver. He has exceptional hands and is a rapid playmaker after the catch. He eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards in 2018 and currently has 764 yards this season. At 6’2 220 ibs., Shenault has the build and once you give him the ball, he is an explosive force who will make you pay.
He also possesses toughness with his ability to keep balance after taking big hits. He is an efficient blocker with his body frame. He is a guy with elite strength that teams would feel confident in using on third down runs.
Laviska Shenault Jr. is the definition of a game-changer. He’s 6’2 and extremely explosive. Shenault is a big play waiting to happen. All you need to do is get the ball in his hands and watch him work. He also can return kicks. Shenault has made several impactful plays in the return game. With his size and speed Shenault offers to teams someone who can get a stagnant offense going with one play.
Shenault is an offensive weapon and at Colorado he played receiver outside, slot, running back and quarterback in wildcat schemes. At 6’2” and 220 lbs he has the size for an NFL receiver and he can also play on all three levels of the field. His size makes him ideal with press coverage and blocking. Additionally, he has tremendous speed and explosiveness. In single coverage and in jump-ball situations he can be a real-threat to defenses on all levels of the field because of the combination of his speed, frame, and hands.
Laviska Shenault Jr has the size and speed, but his route running is something he could work on. He had an expanded route tree this season, but I would like to see him become more comfortable with shorter routes in tight spaces. He excels with vertical routes, but his horizontal routes are questionable. A lot of the routes you see Shenault run look basic and he will have a tough time overcoming this at the next level. He will have to work with an expanded route tree in order to play at an elite level.
Shenault has also been injury prone for most of his college career. In 2018, he suffered a turf toe injury. He also suffered a torn labrum, which has affected players like Jonah Williams and Rashan Gary. Shenault will have to prove to teams he can stay healthy and be a reliable asset on the field.
Shenault is someone who has yet to stay healthy in college. A history of injuries before you get to the NFL is a major red flag. The level of physicality increases at the next level. This means Shenault couldn’t stay healthy in college and there is no reason to believe he will in the pros.
Like most young receivers he also isn’t a very diverse route runner. However, he was asked to do everything for his offense in college. This could mean once he gets to the NFL he will be able to focus more on his route running and improve just that.
Shenault has two red-flags being his history of injuries and that he’s raw talent wise. In 2019 he had surgeries for a torn labrum and turf toe. A good showing at the combine will probably get him back into the trusted graces of NFL scouts but it’s always an uphill battle a year after multiple injuries. As a receiver he’s the complete physical package but because of his raw skills and athleticism he wasn’t required much to be an actual receiver and more of a guy who caught balls down the field. Going into the NFL he’ll have to develop his route trees, especially on posts and horizontal routes. Having the physical tools is a tremendous advantage to have, he just needs polish to be an even better receiver.
Draft Projection: Where will the Colorado standout receiver land in the 2020 NFL Draft?
Laviska Shenault Jr. has the talent to be a first round draft pick. I would say somewhere in the top 20-25 like Henry Ruggs III. I think his size and speed combined will help his draft stock and a team like the Bills would love to have an explosive playmaker like Shenault. I know I said Ruggs before but really, the Bills would benefit with a lot of receivers in this draft class because it is so deep and impressive at the position. I almost like the Shenault fit better than Ruggs because Buffalo needs another explosive force like Shenault on their offense. Size does not really matter for a receiver, but it is always a plus, and Shenault takes advantage of that trait.
Shenault much like Henry Ruggs is a big play waiting to happen. However, Shenault is much bigger than Ruggs offering more contested catch ability. Shenault is likely a late first round pick. He offers a team so much, yet the injuries could scare some teams from taking a top-15 talent where he could get selected had he stayed healthy. Like Ruggs, Shenault is a fit in Philadelphia while also a fit for a team like Green Bay.
Shenault isn’t quite the talent of Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb but he is a first-round prospect and can be a potential top-offensive producing weapon for whatever team that takes him. Unless a team is really impressed by his physical skills and combine and takes a gamble at him early, he should be the fifth receiver taken in the 20-30 region. These are playoff teams needing a receiver like Bufalo, Philadelphia, Green Bay, or New England.