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Colorado WR Laviska Shenault enters draft, scouts love potential despite injuries

How’s this for impressive numbers?

86 receptions. 1,011 yards. 115 rushing yards. 11 TDs, including six receiving. Only player in the nation with at least 5 touchdowns receiving and rushing.

Those would be great statistics if it was Laviska Shenault’s junior year.

Instead, those numbers came from his sophomore season, which helped propel Shenault into the national spotlight and firmly entrenched as a potential – likely? — first-round draft pick.

By comparison, Shenault’s numbers were down this season as the 6-2, 220-pound junior struggled with injuries and inconsistent quarterback play. Shenault finished the year with a still-respectable 56 receptions for 764 yards and 4 TDs. He also increased his yards-per-catch average, 13.6, and his rushing yardage (161).

Shenault recently joined the first wave of underclassmen to declare early for the 2020 NFL draft.

ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper said in his latest big board update that Shenault was “moving up after back-to-back great games.”

“He plays wide receiver like a running back and is stellar after the catch,” Kiper wrote. “The Colorado staff has been smart in moving him up all over the field to get the ball in his hands, even playing him as a Wildcat quarterback at times.”

One of the knocks on Shenault, though, is his route-running, as Kiper said he “…isn’t as developed of a route runner as the other receivers in my top 25, that should come with more reps. He has the versatility and traits that will have NFL teams interested.”

 

Now, about those injuries … Shenault missed two games this season with a core muscle injury. He also missed three games last year with an injury.

Still, Shenault’s size, speed – he’s considered one of the fastest players in the draft – athleticism and ability to move all over the field has scouts drooling.

From The Athletic’s Nick Groke:

“… Shenault offers something for every NFL coach. He can play wide as a size problem for defensive backs in a traditional pro-style set, like what Colorado ran this season. He can run the ball from the backfield with direct snaps in a wildcat formation. He can line up in the slot for dink-and-dunk catches in a conservative offense or break long in an aggressive spread offense. His speed and strength can turn any of these possibilities into big gains after a catch.”

Groke also said scouts have compared Shenault to Pittsburgh’s JuJu Smith-Schuster and Atlanta’s Julio Jones. Jones and Shenault are about the same size; Smith Schuster is about an inch shorter and five pounds lighter, Groke wrote.

“They each have an ability to make plays where there are none, to turn a crumb into a cake,” he said.



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