Laviska Shenault Jr. probably would have been a first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft if not for some injury problems. The Jacksonville Jaguars may have gotten a second-round steal. Here are Shenault’s odds at Mybookie to win 2020 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year as well as the Jaguars’ over/under win total.
The Jaguars selected Shenault with the 42nd pick of April’s draft. As a sophomore in 2018, he was named first-team All-Pac-12 despite missing three games due to injury. He finished with 86 receptions for 1,011 yards and six touchdowns and added 17 rushes for 118 yards and five touchdowns.
He led the nation in receptions per game (9.6). He was the only player in the nation to rush for and receive five or more touchdowns and just the second player in CU history to accomplish that feat behind Mike Pritchard in 1990. His 112.3 receiving yards per game led the Pac-12 and was fourth nationally. His 7.3 points per game ranked seventh in the Pac-12 and 62nd nationally. His 86 catches were the third most in CU history and his 1,011 yards ranked ninth in program annals. His 1,000-yard season was just the 10th in CU history.
Last year, he caught 56 passes for 764 yards and four scores, missing a few more games due to injury. Shenault was the only player in FBS to have at least 700 receiving yards and 100 rushing yards in both 2018 and 2019.
As the No. 42 overall pick, Shenault became the highest-drafted receiver out of Colorado since Rae Carruth went 27th overall in 1997 and was the highest drafted WR by the Jaguars since Marqise Lee (39th, 2014).
Shenault is a bit of a boom/bust prospect, as he sports good size (6-foot-1, 227 pounds) and playmaking ability but has durability and route-running concerns. He is an explosive, physical receiver with good hands and post-catch ability. He’s versatile enough to play outside, in the slot (36% in 2019) or in the backfield (23 carries last season).
“I saw him play live in his first game back against Oregon and so you see him in person and he looks like a linebacker,” said Mark Ellenz, the Jaguars’ director of college scouting. “And he’s really good with this RAC, his run after catch, not only with burst and explosive speed, but he’s a strong kid that can break tackles, so he blends a lot of things together.”
Shenault wrote a letter and published it in The Players’ Tribune the day before the 2020 NFL draft began. Toward the end, after the highlight clips, is a line that stands out: “I feel like I’m a combination of three different receivers — Jarvis Landry, Julio Jones and Larry Fitzgerald.”
Shenault isn’t your prototypical wide receiver, as he is built more like a running back than receiver at 6’1”, 227 pounds. In college, he saw multiple uses, lining up all over the field, including in the backfield as a running back.
Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone, believes that versatility will continue in the NFL under his watch, saying, “You can put him in the backfield. He can play Wildcat. You can put him as the F tight end. You can do a lot of things with him. You see it on his tape in 2018 and 2019.”
Some of Shenault’s comparisons are Jonathan Baldwin, Kenny Britt and DeAndre Hopkins. Baldwin, the closest comparison for Shenault, played in the NFL for four seasons. He totaled 607 receiving yards and two touchdowns on 44 receptions while playing for the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers. Hopkins is a four-time Pro Bowler and he led the NFL in receiving touchdowns in 2017.
Based on Marrone’s remarks, the Jags want to do everything they can do get Shenault on the field but snaps could be an issue in a crowded wide receiver room that includes No. 1 wideout DJ Chark, Chris Conley, Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook.
Jacksonville opens as a home underdog vs. Indianapolis on Sept. 13.