The Jaguars selected wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. with the 42nd overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Shenault, 6’1” and 227 pounds, is ready-made for the NFL. He ran a 4.58 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, but don’t let that time fool you; he was still dealing with a core muscle injury at the combine. On tape, he’s much faster, and the explosive playmaker from Colorado confirmed that on his conference call with the local media, saying his normal time would be 4.39-4.44.
The Jaguars spent a priority pick on Shenault in one of the deepest wide receiver classes in years. Heading into the 2019 college season, he was the Jaguars’ top-rated receiver, according to Dave Caldwell.
Shenault has all the talent and potential in the world. But what should you expect from him in 2020?
I viewed “Viska” as a boom-or-bust prospect, largely due to health and his lack of experience as a true outside receiver. I wasn’t sure how he would handle the transition to becoming an NFL team’s top dog. But fortunately for Shenault and the Jaguars, he won’t have to be the top outside receiver in Duval ... that mantle is already held by DJ Chark, who had a breakout in 2019. Having Chark on the field with Shenault should help take pressure and attention away from the rookie receiver. I expect the Jaguars to line Viska up all over the field. Outside receiver, slot receiver, H-back, wildcat QB, running back, you name it, he can do it. Shenault always makes the first man miss, as evidenced by his 44 forced missed tackles over the last two seasons, the most of any receiver in the country. The Jaguars will likely feed Shenault the ball via jet sweeps, direct snaps, wide receiver screens, and short pass plays at least 3-5 times per game from the jump. If he stays healthy and produces in that role, it could be expanded throughout the season. As a pure receiver, Shenault has some development to do when it comes to running consistently precise routes. But thanks to his explosiveness, physicality and, work ethic, Shenault will be tough for even the best defensive backs to cover from day one. And even when he is covered tightly, Shenault wins with regularity thanks to his strong hands, body control, and athleticism.
I expect Viska to get plenty of reps as a traditional wideout or slot receiver from the very beginning. Shenault will be a high octane offensive playmaker for the Jaguars who will have some hiccups from time-to-time but should ultimately be a major asset, as both a receiver and offensive weapon, for the Jaguars’ offense early on in his rookie season. Staying healthy will be the key for Viska, whose violent playing style led to durability issues in 2019. Having Keenan McCardell, legendary receiver and current Jaguars' WR Coach, in his back pocket, will help Shenault a great deal.
16-game stat projections (are silly): 52 catches, 690 yards, 33 carries, 205 yards, 7 total touchdowns
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