Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado
(percentile rank among all WRs at the Combine since 1999, courtesy of mockdraftable.com):
40-yard dash: 4.58 seconds (22nd)
20-yard shuttle: n/a
Shenault played big-time high school football, helping DeSoto (TX) go 16-0 and finish as MaxPreps’ 2nd-ranked team in the country in 2016. He was tabbed a 3-star recruit by most scouting services and received offers from Alabama, LSU, Mississippi State, Arkansas and Colorado, among others.
Shenault chose the Buffs and flashed some big-play ability as a true freshman. His 7 catches included gains of 58 and 42 yards.
Then came the 2018 breakout. Shenault easily led Colorado in catches, receiving yards and receiving scores — adding 115 yards and 5 TDs on 17 rushing attempts. He set 12 different school records and was named team MVP and First-Team All-Pac 12. And he did it despite missing 3 games and parts of another with a foot injury.
Shenault’s 9.6 catches per game led the nation; his 112.3 receiving yards per game ranked 4th. He tallied double-digit grabs in 5 of 9 games and topped 100 yards 5 times, including a massive 211-yard outing in the season opener. In his 9 games, Shenault accounted for 42.4% of Colorado’s receptions, 46.2% of the receiving yards and 46.2% of the receiving TDs. Massive market shares.
But Shenault took a big step back this past year. He underwent toe and shoulder (labrum) surgeries in the offseason but was ready for fall camp. Shenault played in the first 4 games of the season before missing the 5th with a core-muscle injury. He returned for the final 7 games but saw his production sink to 5.1 catches and 69.5 yards per game. Shenault reached 100 yards 3 times but fell short of 50 yards in 6 of his 11 outings.
Colorado’s passing game was only slightly worse in 2019 vs. 2018, dropping from 249.6 to 238.2 yards per game and from 1.6 to 1.5 TDs. Shenault’s market shares plummeted to 24.6% of the receptions, 30.3% of the receiving yards and 25.0% of the TDs. Those marks rank 16th, 12th and 18th among 23 of this year’s top WR prospects.
On the plus side, Shenault still averaged a strong 2.98 yards per route run last year — 7th among those 23 WRs. He also added another 161 yards and 2 TDs on 23 carries.
Courtesy of @WhatsOnDraftNFL
Games watched - Nebraska (2018), UCLA (2018), Colorado State, Nebraska, USC
Shenault is built like a RB. At 6’1 and 227 pounds, he’s comparable size-wise to guys like Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette, who both check in at 6’0, 228.
It’s no surprise, then, that Shenault’s after-catch ability is his best asset.
Colorado regularly used Shenault on handoffs, end-arounds and even at Wildcat QB to get the ball into his hands.
Shenault also has the juice and ball-tracking ability to make big plays downfield.
Shenault’s size helps him fight off physical coverage at the line of scrimmage …
… And make contested catches in tight quarters
I did see Shenault mistime his jump on high-point opportunities a couple of times in the 5 games I watched. And we don’t see much high-level route running on his tape. But his combination of size and athleticism give him the potential to improve in those departments.
There’s a lot to like in Shenault’s profile. His per-game numbers and market shares as a true sophomore were remarkable. The college rushing production gives him another avenue to fantasy success. And the big-play and after-catch ability on tape are impressive.
Don’t be concerned about the Combine results, either. He ran his 40-yard dash with a core-muscle injury that eventually required surgery on March 3. A healthy Shenault would have been a good bet to test as an above-average size-adjusted athlete.
But that’s the big concern with Shenault: durability. He missed 4 games over the last 2 seasons and underwent foot, shoulder and core-muscle surgeries in the past 15 months. His production decline in 2019 is also worth considering.
So Shenault isn’t the safest prospect in the 2020 WR class. But the upside is a bigger, badder version of Deebo Samuel.