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2020 NFL Draft prospect profile: Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado

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Could Shenault’s big-play ability appeal to the Giants?

USC v Colorado Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

The New York Giants have something of a hole when it comes to pass catchers. While they have a number of options to catch passes from the slot, they are lacking in options for wide receivers. That could be a glaring hole if new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett installs his version of the Air Coryell offense which he has called for the last decade and a half. The Air Coryell relies on having multiple big, athletic receivers who can stress a defense and create opportunities for the rest of the offense.

Colorado receiver Laviska Shenault isn’t an unknown after having his name brought up throughout the season and the draft process as a player to watch. However, he also isn’t as highly regarded as receivers from some other, bigger, schools. That being said, he offers one of the more intriguing skill sets in the draft with size, strength, and big-play ability.

Prospect: Laviska Shenault Jr. (WR, Colorado)
Games Watched: vs. Colorado State (2019), vs. Nebraska (2019), vs. Oregon (2019), vs. USC (2019)
Red Flags: Turf toe (2018), torn labrum (2018), “core muscle” (2019)

Measurables

Stats

Games Played: 27
Receptions: 149
Yards (YPC): 1,943 (13.0 per catch)
Carries (Yards, YPC): 42 (280 yards, 6.7 per carry)
Total Touchdowns (receiving/rushing): 17 (10 receiving, 7 rushing)

2019 Stats

Games Played (starts): 11

Receptions: 56 receptions
Yards (YPC): 746 (13.6 per catch)
Carries (Yards, YPC): 23 (161 yards, 7.0 per carry)
Total Touchdowns (receiving/rushing): 6 (4 receiving, 2 rushing)

Quick Summary

Best: Size, strength, physicality, run after catch
Worst: Consistency
Projection: A starting receiver in a passing game which affords run-after-catch opportunities.

Game Tape

Full Report

Laviska Shenault combines good size, strength, and athleticism for a receiver at the NFL level. Shenault lined up in multiple positions for Colorado’s offense, playing at outside receiver, slot receiver, and out of the backfield as a wildcat quarterback. As a receiver, he has the ability to be sudden off the line of scrimmage, pressing his routes vertically and eating up cushions when facing off coverage. Shenault has a good feel for using his burst off the line of scrimmage and route stems to get DB’s hips turned and shows the ability to break sharply on short or intermediate routes. He also has a good sense for settling into voids in zone coverage.

Shenault has the ability to be dynamic with the ball in his hands. He gets turned upfield quickly and shows good vision to spot running lanes in space. Shenault has very good contact balance and the play strength to absorb contact and run through attempts at arm tackles.

Colorado capitalized on Shenault’s ability with the ball in his hand by using him as a wildcat quarterback at times, and he proved reasonably effective as a runner.

Shenault shows good upside as a blocker, using his play strength and showing good competitive toughness when he is on the play-side. He will work to sustain blocks as well as

Shenault still needs to polish his technique as a route runner. He has the ability to make sharp, crisp breaks but doesn’t always do so, and could benefit from using his routes to create more separation. Ultimately, he needs to play with more consistency in all areas of his game, from route running to blocking on the back side of running plays. Shenault’s relatively short arms also show up at the catch point. He saw very inconsistent quarterback play, but also struggled to consistently secure the catch in traffic, in part because of a relative lack of length. Shenault has also struggled with injury in the past and teams will want to pay attention to his medical reports.

Overall Grade: Has the traits to be a starting receiver in the NFL, but will need a plan for development by the team that drafts him. Note that he isn’t a “B” (Boom/Bust) player, but will need development to reach his ceiling. [Grading Scale]

Projection

Laviska Shenault projects as a starting receiver at the NFL level in an offense that would provide him with plenty of run-after-catch opportunities. His size and strength profile well as an outside receiver but he saw little true press coverage in college so his ability to routinely defeat it is unknown at this point. However, he also has experience playing inside and could be used as a “big slot” receiver while he develops his release against press coverage.

Shenault’s ability as a deep threat is unknown as well at this point. He saw very inconsistent quarterback play and frequently had to adjust to off-target throws. He also doesn’t have great top-end speed, though he can create initial separation with a noticeable burst off the line of scrimmage or out of a break.

Shenault has the potential to be a dynamic big play threat with the ball in his hands. He plays like a running back after catching the ball in space, with good vision, contact balance, and play strength to pick up extra yards. Colorado leaned into his ability as a runner, giving him hand-offs on jet motion as well as playing him in the backfield as a wildcat quarterback.

Teams will like Shenault’s toughness as a receiver in the middle of the field, as a runner, and as a blocker on the play side, but he needs to be more consistent with his effort on the back-side of plays. He generally needs to be more consistent in all areas of his game. He has the ability to run sharp routes but isn’t always precise in his breaks. He has the ability to pluck the ball out of the air, but sometimes isn’t aggressive enough in attacking the ball.

If a team can help him hone his craft as a receiver and smooth out the inconsistencies in his game, Shenault offers intriguing upside.