Gardner Minshew II has a new weapon and Jay Gruden has a new chess piece to move around his scheme, a result of the Jacksonville Jaguars selecting Colorado wide receiver Laviska Shenault with the No. 42 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft on Friday night.
Shenault is one of the most unique talents in the entire draft class, and it isn't hard to see why the Jaguars were so eager to implement him into their offense. The 6-foot-1, 227-pound receiver recording 1,943 yards on 149 receptions, carried for 280 rushing yards, and scored 30 touchdowns as a receiver and runner.
Shenault's ability to line up everywhere and do everything for the Colorado offense was the driving force behind the Jaguars selecting him, especially after an elite sophomore season in which he recorded 86 receptions for 1,011 yards and six touchdowns. On top of this, Shenault also rushed 17 times for 115 yards and five touchdowns.
"He had a very productive 2018 season; this season his production was a little bit further down. He dealt with a shoulder injury early on, came back, played through it, and then he dealt with a core muscle injury through the year as well," Jaguars Director of College Scouting Mark Ellenz said Friday.
According to Ellenz, if Shenault was able to enter the NFL following his 2018 season, it is unlikely he would have ever sniffed the No. 42 pick.
“Well I think we did basically two years’ work on him and like I mentioned earlier he had some statistics that weren’t as high this year, but really if this kid would have been draft-eligible last year and come out he probably would have been a top 10, top 15 pick," Ellenz said.
"We had a lot of high grades on him from what would have been his sophomore year and we still had high grades on him on this year. Taking in the consideration of injuries, I think that’s why he was here in the second round. But he’s big, he’s athletic, he’s fast, he’s a very physical player and he did a lot of different things in the Colorado offensive lineup.”
At Colorado, Shenault won as a versatile playmaker who did his best work either after the catch or as a deep threat. He turned in a number of jaw-dropping plays in which he broke a multitude of tackles or left the ankles of defenders in a wake behind him.
Despite Shenault's size, he moves like a much shifter and quicker receiver with the ball in his hands. But he doesn't run small, either. Instead, he combines his short-area quickness with brute strength and physicality to help him run through and around defenders.
“Well, I saw him play live in his first game back this year against Oregon and so you see him in person and he looks like a linebacker," Ellenz said. "And he’s really good with his 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.
"I think we can line him up from different areas, either inside or outside at receiver, maybe even use him out of the backfield. I know a few of his touchdowns he scored in his career were like on reverses or jet sweeps."
Shenault will likely be used all over Gruden's scheme as long as he can retain the information. As it stands today, there isn't a single thing he can't do physically. He has the size, speed, strength, and quickness to win in the big and small game.
All he needs to do is put it together and work on the little things. If he continues to develop, and stay healthy, look for him to be utilized in Jacksonville much like he was at Colorado when the Jaguars had high marks on him.