PRO 2020 Rookie Spotlight: Laviska Shenault, WR Colorado

Rookie Spotlight: Laviska Shenault, University of Colorado
Height: 6’ 5/8” (official)
Weight: 227 lbs (official)
Hands: 9”
Arm: 31 7/8”
40 yard dash: 4.58 (official)
NFL Comparison: Cordarelle Patterson, A.J. Brown

– physical, consistently beats the press
– extremely versatile, played x, y and z
– fearless
– tracks ball in air well
– catches ball away from body
– elite RAC

– questionable durability
– punishing running style
– can improve route running
– relies too much on athleticism

Scouting Notes: Laviska Shenault, may be the most versatile of the receivers in the year’s class. Built sturdy and trunk heavy like a running back – he played some H-back in highschool, he was utilized at every receiver position at Colorado, in addition to running the ball out of the backfield and fielding kicks. A bully with the ball in his hands, Shenault usually runs right past his defenders after the catch or just runs through them. Per PFF, he has broken more tackles (44) over the last two seasons than any other receiver in college football while also averaging a gaudy 7.4 yards after contact per reception. That number goes up to an eye-popping 10.8 yards after contact per reception on screen passes — a route design where he’s broken 9 more tackles over the last two years than his nearest competitor in FBS. He doesn’t often bother with trying to outmaneuver his opponents, which is fun to watch, but can be punishing on him physically. Shenault has been plagued with nagging injuries throughout his career, and that’s probably the main reason he isn’t likely to be a top 5 WR pick in the draft.

That fearlessness aids him in so many ways though. Shenault is physical right off the line and has little trouble beating the press against most corners. He doesn’t really sell his routes, but he doesn’t need to. Few are going to be able to keep him from getting to where he wants to be on the field. He’s also not afraid to sacrifice his body to get the ball, wherever it is. He’ll throw himself into traffic without hesitation, and he’s particularly adept at tracking and catching the ball in tight spaces, away from his body.

Shenault has that same abandon when it comes to blocking on plays he’s not otherwise involved in and just shows how much of a team player he is – to his detriment some of the time. He gets banged up. He was not 100% at the combine and spent last spring recovering from two surgeries, one on the foot, one on the shoulder.

Fantasy Outlook: Many scouts will question Shenault’s decrease in production from 2018 (86 rec, 1,011 yards, 11 TD) to 2019 (56 rec, 786 yards, 6 TD), despite playing in two more games in 2019. Some of this may be due to defenses angling at shutting him down after his stellar 2018 season, but, much of it had to do with playing through or being shut down to injury. What makes him such a special player also makes him a liability, so I don’t see him getting drafted in the first or maybe even second round with so much talent at the position this year. A 4.58 forty didn’t do much to help his stock either, though it’s purported that this slower showing is also due to injury – In this case, a core muscle injury for which he got surgery after the combine. If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that Shenault is tough and often plays through injury, so all is not lost if he’s not completely healthy. It also allows him to come at a cheaper price in both dynasty and redraft for the core skill set he brings to the table.

Shenault offers a lot of upside, as he’s so versatile, and he’ll likely be an immediate contributor on any team he lands on. His injury history is the only thing keeping him from being one of the top WR picks in the draft, and he’s got potential to be a fantasy stud in any format.

From the Colorado Athletic Department:

Has played in 31 career games with 16 starts.
He has 145 career receptions for 1,900 yards and 11 touchdowns. He currently ranks 8th in career receptions with 145 and 11th in career receiving yards with 1,900.
Has scored 108 points, which puts him at 49th on CU’s all-time scoring list.

This Season (Jr.)
Has played in nine off 11 games this season. He has 52 catches for 721 yards and four touchdowns receiving, 18 rushes for 136 yards and two touchdowns rushing.
Named a game captain for the Nebraska game.
CU’s nominee for Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week three times, against Air Force, USC and Stanford, and to the Colorado Chapter of the NFF Player of the eek twice, against Air Force and USC. He was named the offensive player of the game four times by the coaches, against Air Force, USC, Stanford and Washington.
Had seven caches for 100 yards and a touchdown receiving and three rushes for 17 yards against Washington.
Had eight catches for 91 yards and one carry for five yards against Stanford. He had 96 all-purpose yards.
Had three catches for 16 yards and one carry for 15 yards against UCLA.
Had nine catches for 172 yards and one touchdown against USC. He also had one carry for 17 yards, pushing his all-purpose yardage for the game to 189 total yards.
Had four catches for 46 yards and three carries for 16 yards and a touchdown against Washinton State. He had 62 all-purpose yards for the game.
Started the Air Force game as a captain and had eight receptions for 124 yards and a touchdown and three carries for 25 yards and a touchdown, coming up with 149 yards of total offense; it was the fourth game in his career that he scored both a rushing and receiving TD
Started the Nebraska game and had five receptions for 31 yards and three carries for six yards, coming up with 37 yards of total offense.
Started the Colorado State game and had three receptions for 48 yards and a touchdown and three carries for 45 yards, coming up with 93 yards of total offense.
One of the nation’s top wide receivers, he should be fully healthy entering fall camp.
He is on the preseason watch list for five postseason awards, the Maxwell Award (nation’s top player), the Biletnikoff Award (top receiver), the Paul Hornung Award (most versatile player), the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award (top player from Texas) and the Paul Warfield Award (top receiver).
He was named first-team Preseason All-American by Phil Steele’s College Football, Sports Illustrated and, second-team by Street & Smith and and third-team by Athlon.
Named first-team preseason All-Pac-12 by the Pac-12 media, Phil Steele’s College Football, Athlon,, Lindy’s College Football and Street & Smith.
Placed No. 19 on Mel Kiper Jr.’s first Big Board for the 2020 NFL Draft … Matt Miller from Bleacher Report ranked him the No. 6 prospect for the 2020 NFL Draft … USA Today, and Phil Steele’s College Football place him as the No. 2 wide receiver nationally in the preseason while Lindy’s College Football named him the No. 5 receiver and No. 2 all-purpose player and Sporting News tabbed him as the No. 6 receiver.
Named the top player in the Pac-12 by
Attended the Manning Camp.
Named a 2019 Player to Watch by the Touchdown Club of Columbus.
One of 30 players selected to attend the NCAA’s Elite Student-Athlete Symposium in the Spring.
Practiced in non-contact drills all spring recovering from foot and shoulder surgery.

Quotable from the Combine

1. (What do you need to show teams at the combine?) I think my speed, how fast I can run.

2. (What do you think you’ll run?) I think it will be a satisfying time, we’ll see.

3. (your thoughts on how defenses keyed on you) I think they paid very much attention, especially if they’re watching film they know the ball is in my hand a lot, so I think they were paying a lot of attention.

4. (How will your size help you transition into NFL and have an immediate impact) I think my size will transition well. I think I’m just going to be able to outplay a lot of people with my size.

5. (measurements) Yeah, 6 foot, 227.

6. (more of a receiver in NFL after being used in a lot of different ways for Buffaloes) I think I’m an athlete. I want to play everywhere. I want to help out as much as possible, at any position.

7. (what like being here with CU teammates Steven Montez, Tony Brown) It’s definitely interesting and it’s fun to have some guys who went through the grind we experienced the grind together, so it’s good to be somewhere together than a lot of people don’t get to go to.

8. (what do you think your dad would say today) He’d be proud and (tell me to) remain tough and just keep rising.

9. (how did you persevere through losing your dad at a young age) I’m the type of guy that’s going to keep everything inside anyways and just keep growing as a person. I mean, I don’t think it’s kept me down. I just look at it as everything happens for a reason and just figure it out, keep moving on.

10. (in meeting with teams, do they have different visions for using you) A lot of teams actually been saying the same thing as far as how they’d use me. Slot, mainly slot. Outside. And just being able to move around.

11. (with your unique skill set, did you watch other receivers that were more athletic) Deebo Samuel definitely did a lot of moving around and just getting the ball in different places. So, definitely Deebo Samuel.

12. (versatility a strength or did you want to play just one position) I think my versatility is a good thing. Like I said, I don’t want to be in one spot. Then, I wouldn’t get that many balls or attempts. I want to be able to mover everywhere. I want to be able to create mismatches everywhere on the field.

13. (huge game vs. USC, a lot of pro scouts were there) I didn’t know how many scouts were there, but I think it was big. I mean, I think I need to perform big every game to show people what I can do. I think it was big. I was able to get loose a little bit, so it was definitely good for the scouts to see.

14. (Steven Montez talked about the long touchdown play against the Trojans, what’s your recollection) I ran a slant to the field, so the DB was playing off a little bit. That’s like automatically go to that slat, because I had a lot of space, a lot of room. I just set it up when I caught it, I slowed up a little bit, make is seem like I’m going to cut back out and then slipped him and touchdown.

15. (had formal interview with the Broncos) It went cool. They just wanted to get to know me. I think I did good.

16. (are you participating in all the workouts here) Unfortunately not. I wasn’t able to train for everything because of my injury (missed two games in 2019 with a core muscle injury) I had to do a lot of resting and rehabbing. But I was only able to train for the 40, so I will be running the 40.

17. (pattern your game after) I can name a couple. Jarvis Landry because of his aggressiveness and his dog mentality. Larry Fitzgerald. He’s about business when he gets on that field and I’m about business, too. And I’d say Julio Jones, his aggressiveness and his athletic ability to do things is just crazy to me and I think I’m a freak like him.

18. (wear your hair long as a way to honor your father’s memory, your high school basketball coach said you had to cut your hair, and instead you quit hoops and focused on football, right?) Yeah, that was his rule, but I’m not fixing to cut my hair to play a sport. That’s just God telling me to go do something else. I’m not fixing to cut my hair to play a sport.

19. (was football your priority anyway back then?) Actually, basketball was my No. 1 sport. I actually wanted to play basketball. I didn’t start taking football seriously until ninth grade. And I started off on the ninth-grade B team and I’d just moved to receiver.

20. (so you quit basketball after your freshman year of high school?) During freshman year.

21. (What is Michigan State getting in Mel Tucker) A very dedicated and hardworking coach, definitely about business and he wants to get the most out of every player. He wants to make sure everyone’s doing everything right. And like I said, get the most out of every player.

22. (Any disappointment that he bolted Colorado) Definitely disappointing. I didn’t see it coming but everyone knows this is a business and money does a lot of talking.

23. (how do you compare yourself with the other WRs here) I think it’s a comparison but I also think it’s not a comparison. I think I stand out in ways that they don’t. Like you said, it’s a very deep class and I think everyone’s great.

24. (do you pay attention to everyone’s draft stock) Not so much. I know what my film shows and I know what type of guy I am so I’m just going to do me and worry about me.

25. (did playing through the injury illustrate toughness, and how compromised were you trying to get through last season) Definitely difficult. But I love the sport too much to just shut it down. And I just wanted to be a team player. Like I said, I love the sport too much, so I just had to keep playing and keep fighting through it and just produce as much as I could.

26. (are you finally healthy) I’m still not there, but I mean, I had to do a lot of training for this combine.

27. (idol in hoops) Carmelo Anthony. I love him. I just love how aggressive he played, especially when he was at the Nuggets. I just loved everything about him.

28. (being from DeSoto, Texas, what’s your relationship with Von Miller) Our relationship is very, very deep. We spent some good amount of time together. He’s like a big brother to me.

29. (what learn from him) Life things, life goals, what to expect, how to go about life. Just how to be great.

30. (did he give you advice about the draft process) Not so much about the process but just how to work, just make sure you work. That was the main thing, just make sure you work.

31. (what was your experience at the Manning Passing Academy like last summer) Oh, that experience was crazy. You’re out there with all these different quarterbacks around the world, so that was good to meet them and work with all of them. Also, it was good to be a coach. I was coaching all the kids, and it was a good learning experience.

32. (did you get to work with a lot of the QBs who are here and did any one of them stand out) I didn’t get to work that much, but I don’t really remember. But the size is what was crazy to me, like I didn’t see the size of those quarterbacks from seeing them in person. It was crazy.

33. (depth at wide receiver class, what think of this group as a whole) Oh, I think this is one of the best groups since Odell’s group. I think we’re talented across the board. I think we check a lot of boxes. I think this class is going to do great things. It’s definitely going to be a legendary class.

34. (what do you tell teams to reassure them about your injury history) Well, being in college first off, you don’t really get to take care of your body as much as you can when you get to the league, as far as money and time. You’re always busy in college; you don’t have as much time to take care of your body as you want to. So, I know for sure that being into the next level, I can take care of my body way more and get better medical attention.

35. (feel you need to show teams you’re a WR). They know I’m a great receiver. But I think it’s more than just being a receiver, you’ve got to be able to do things with the ball. So, I think that plays a great part, too.

36. (what would it mean to go to Denver Broncos with Phillip Lindsay, Von Miller) I think it would be interesting and I think it would be fun to play with some people that I’ve been around a bunch. And I know they’ll show me the way to live life even better and they’ll show me the way to get on the field and be great.

37. (you’ve said you would love to play with Aaron Rodgers) Rodgers is great. Who wouldn’t want to play with Rodgers? Along with Adams? A great receiver, I’d love to learn from him.

38. (what mean to you to go in the first round) I think it would mean the most to my family, my dad, I know he’d be proud. It would mean the most to me because it wasn’t easy. I had a very long, bumpy road. I had to get everything the hard way, nothing came easy. And I had to put the time and the grind in. So, it would mean a lot to go first round.

39. (how could you see yourself fitting in with the Bills) I see myself being a star, honestly. I think I would be able to open up more space and just do things that the other receivers don’t do just because of my size and my ability..

40. (route that was your favorite in college) Honestly, I’d say a post-corner. I really like running that route because if they’re in man, I’m going to get you to flip your hips with a post and then come back to the corner with a double move.

41. (as a WR, did you win on the release, top of route) Definitely the top of the route. Selling my eyes, my head, definitely the top of the route.

42. (your idea to play more positions or coaches moved you) I think it was when coach found out I could move to different positions and take it in and learn it and do it, produce, that he just took advantage of it.

43. (certain position other than WR that you enjoyed) Definitely wildcat. I love snapping the ball and the ball is in my hands from the beginning. Now, I get to choose what happens next.

44. (had you played wildcat before) No.

45. (how did that convo go) Yeah, it was spring after freshman season. Coach was like we’re going to do wildcat. And I’m like, ‘Oh, yeah! Let’s put that in now!’

46. (ever watch guys like Ronnie Brown who had run the wildcat before) Not really. Not really. I just know if you’re getting the ball in your hands from the very beginning, make something happen..

47. (will you participate in CU’s pro day) We’ll see. I’m not sure as of right now. But we’ll see.

48. (so you’re only running the 40 here, right) I’m only doing the 40, yeah.

49. (what should we know about you that we don’t) I’m more talkative than people think. I like to have fun. And I’m not as quiet as people think. On the field, I don’t know, my film does all the talking, yeah.

50. (NFL offense you admire) I think there’s a couple of teams, but I’d say most definitely the 49ers because like I say with Deebo Samuel, they moved him around everywhere and just created mismatches and tried to get him the ball in different positions.

51. (anything you wanted to do at CU that they didn’t let you) Definitely throw it. I definitely wanted to throw the ball but they never let me.

52. (they had a pretty good QB in Steven Montez) Yeah, a pretty good quarterback.

53. (did you play QB in high school) I didn’t, I only played wide receiver.

54. (so what gave you the confidence you could play quarterback?) Because I can throw. Being in practice, before practice that’s all we do, we throw the ball around to each other, we throw the ball 40, 50 yards to each other. So, throwing a deep pass was nothing.

55. (did you ever have that option as a wildcat QB or was it always run only) Actually, it was in my 2018 season and I ended up getting hurt and they ran it with my running back and it did not go well.

56. (tough questions from teams yet) There weren’t really tough questions but just criticisms of all my bad plays, basically. I mean, I’m the type of player that’s going to criticize myself before anyone else does and I recognized all my mistakes. If I wasn’t aggressive enough, if I was lazy, if I wasn’t doing something right, I criticize myself and I understand what I need to do to do better.

57. (Rich Eisen 40 for charity, what advice you give him) Haha. Yeah, keep running. I want to see the fastest time. Get the suit as loose as possible.

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