Despite a less than ideal pre-draft process — littered with injury concerns — the Jaguars selected Laviska Shenault Jr. with the 42nd overall pick in the NFL Draft. Had Shenault been healthy enough to participate fully in the Scouting Combine, the Jaguars likely wouldn't have had the opportunity to add the 6'1", 227-pound receiver. He impressed when on the field at Colorado, scoring 17 touchdowns on 182 total touches during his final two years in Boulder.
But Shenault's misfortune with a core muscle injury to start the year turned into a blessing for the Jaguars. They now have an offensive playmaker with the potential to be an x-factor type player who can excel on the outside, in the slot, and even lining up in the backfield. And falling into the Jaguars' lap in the second round could ultimately be a win for Shenault, who won't be forced into the role of a number one receiver. Opposing defenses will need to focus on stopping DJ Chark in 2020, which could allow Laviska to shine as a rookie.
To this point, he's been drawing rave reviews from teammates and coaches alike.
Gardner Minshew met with the media on Tuesday and had this to say about his new offensive weapon: "Laviska Shenault Jr. is a freak, man. I knew it when we played him at Colorado. I was glad he wasn't super healthy that game because he changes the game when he has the ball in his hands. He's really impressed me. He's a lot better route runner, a lot better at catching the ball than I even expected so I'm really excited for what he's going to be."
One of his running mates, DJ Chark, who made the Pro Bowl in 2019, likes what he sees from Laviska. "Very strong, confident, efficient," said Chark of Shenault. "Coachable. He listens to me and I don't consider myself a big time veteran or anything like that. He listens to me; he listens to anybody that's willing to give him coaching advice. I think he's definitely going to help us out a lot. Very talented. And I think working with coach McCardell and once he gets the hang of the offense and get the hang of the way that defenses are trying to taking him away and things like that that come with time, I think he's going to be a very dominant player."
Shenault's new head coach, Doug Marrone, also commented on just how impressive the rookie receiver is.
"I think you watch him, and he really can catch the football," said Marrone. "I mean, really strong hands. That whole group of young guys that we have in, have been really impressive. With Laviska [Shenault Jr.], I think that what you have to get used to, and you guys will see this, is how he's a big man. A lot of times when we think of receivers, we think of guys that are lean and fast and in and out. He's all that, but he's also big. So when you watch him, he's big, he's fast, he's explosive. You walk away and you're like this is going to be interesting. We have to do a good job, as coaches, because right now when you look at him there's so many things that you want to do, but we want to make sure that we don't go too fast. We want to make sure that he is still going to have to learn technique. We haven't seen press coverage, we haven't seen a lot of things that he is going to have to be able to defeat, at this level. But, same thing, guy that is on a schedule, knows how to take care of his body, doing all the right things now to be able to put himself in position to really help this football team."
Shenault's biggest hurdles as a rookie will be staying healthy and mastering his craft. He'll need to learn how to beat different types of coverage at the next level and will be challenged week in and week out. But his size and athletic ability should allow Shenault to find success lining up against number two corners, nickels, and linebackers in 2020.
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