Jacksonville Jaguars rookie wide receiver Laviska Shenault has drawn rave reviews all through training camp this month. Whether it is head coach Doug Marrone, Shenault's fellow receivers or the defenders he aligns against each day, there has been plenty of praise thrown toward the No. 42 overall pick's way.
But perhaps the most notable piece of praise came from Shenault's own position coach, former NFL Pro Bowl receiver Keenan McCardell.
McCardell played in the NFL for over 15 seasons and has been a receivers coach in either college football or the NFL for six of the last seven seasons. To say is a wealth of knowledge at the receiver position is an understatement -- which makes what he said about Shenault during a Sunday video press conference even more notable.
“I see a lot of power—strong runner after the catch. You know, he reminds me a little bit of Anquan Boldin after the catch, the way he gets in and out, the way he breaks his tackles, on film I saw that." McCardell said.
Considering the career Boldin carved out for himself, the Jaguars would likely be thrilled to see their latest second-round pick develop into that caliber of weapon in the passing game. In 14 seasons, Boldin caught 1,076 passes for 13,779 yards and 82 touchdowns, forming one of the best wide receiver duos in recent eras with Arizona Cardinals teammate Larry Fitzgerald.
But McCardell didn't stop there. Now that he has seen Shenault in person, he has a better feel for his speed, strength, explosion and more, which led him to make a second comparison in terms of his power.
"Now, being up close with him, he has that power of Andre Johnson," McCardell said.
"You know, I hold Andre in high regards, that’s my guy, we’re good friends. But I’ve also seen him [Shenault] work every day. I see the power that he has, he kind of reminds me a little bit of Andre, he has that type of power. And I don’t want to put those shoes out there for him because those are some huge shoes to fill, but you know, he has that type of body type."
While McCardell isn't saying Shenault is an exact match to either Boldin or Johnson, who caught 1,012 career receptions for 13,597 yards and 64 touchdowns in his career, it does show how physically gifted Shenault is. He has a rare blend of size, speed, agility, explosion and strength, making him almost like a blend of a receiver, tight end and running back. He is a truly unique player, so it may not be much of a stretch to say he has traits similar to those of past great receivers with similar frames.
"I mean, I’m looking forward to seeing this kid play. I recruited him when I was at Maryland. I know who he is, I know where he comes from, I know what type of football player he is, it means a lot to him," McCardell said. "You know, he’s kind of quiet, but you know, it means a lot to him and I appreciate that.”
Shenault was the Jaguars' highest-picked offensive player in April's NFL Draft, and it is clear that expectations are high for him as a rookie. If he can display any of the traits on Sundays that McCardell has seen in practice, the Jaguars offense will surely be getting a big boost.