Although a wide receiver of his caliber may not be available at pick No. 28, draft analysts have raved at the potential fit Laviska Shenault Jr. would have in the Ravens’ offense. In many mock drafts, a frequent spot for the Colorado wide receiver has been in the early twenties, often being projected to go to the Buffalo Bills.
With that being said, if the Ravens have Shenault high enough on their draft board, a trade up for the wide receiver is not at all an unrealistic possibility given GM Eric DeCosta’s opportunistic tendencies in the trade department. The Ravens also have the draft capital (even more so as they are projected to gain two compensatory picks, which would give the team nine total draft picks) to pull off a trade up from the 28th spot and pick in the early twenties.
During his time at Colorado, the team’s entire offense funneled through Shenault. With a less than talented cast of characters surrounding him, the team utilized his uncanny playmaking abilities by getting him the ball as often as possible. Shenault lived up to expectations, and became a nightmare for opposing teams to deal with. At the same time, he never seemed to be able to shake the injury bug that hampered him throughout his college career.
By constantly being relied upon to make plays, Shenault had a heavy workload and thus took many hits. He was never the one to shy away from contact, but often paid the price. His physical evaluation at the NFL Scouting Combine will be of great interest. Keep in mind that Shenault opted not to surgically repair a groin injury so he could participate in the combine.
Colorado WR Laviska Shenault Jr.
2019 Stats: 56 receptions, 764 yards, 4 TDs, 13.6 YPR, 23 rushes, 161 yards, 7 YPC, 2 TDs
Although Shenault’s stats may not be as padded as other top wide receiver prospects in this year’s draft, he was hampered throughout his career with poor quarterback play. At the same time, his stats reflect his versatility as a football player - not just a wide receiver. By frequently being reelied upon to get the ball and make plays in unconventional ways, Shenault’s craft as a wide receiver is less refined then that of other prospects. Shenault’s slight rawness paired with his injury history may push him down the draft boards.
- One of the most, if not the most, dynamic playmakers with the ball in his hands in the entire draft class
- A violent runner in his routes as well as with the ball in his hands; it often takes multiple defenders to bring him down
- Has a running back-like build, which allows him to bounce off of tacklers and easily beat arm tackles
- A very versatile player since he was tasked to line up all over the field while at Colorado
- Has breakaway speed and can take it to the house in an open field setting
- Has solid footwork when running his routes
- Has very solid hands and can snatch the ball away even when blanketed by a cornerback
- Does a very good job of tracking deep balls
- Has the ability to contort his body mid-air to get himself in position to catch the ball
- Demonstrates tremendous balance after the catch and can juke defenders to get more yardage
- Has strong hands to bring down inaccurate throws as well as throws in traffic
- More of a hands catcher than a body catcher (many college receivers are susceptible to developing bad habits as body-catchers)
- Has experience running the football, which would be another reason for coaches to put him on the field
- Has a notable injury history that will be closely looked at during the pre-draft process; long-term durability in the NFL will definitely be a concern
- Receivers drafted from the Pac-12 have not had the greatest recent track record in terms of succeeding in the NFL
- Shenault Jr. is the definition of a boom-or-bust prospect
- Not the most refined route runner; his reliance to merely make plays resulted in him not fully developing his route running abilities
- Often never faced press coverage (like many Pac-12 wide receivers), which for many corners in the NFL is their bread and butter
- Had trouble against bigger corners that put their hands on him off of the snap
- Isn’t the savviest route runner and is often predictable in his breaks
- Not a strong blocker, which is an area of great importance in the NFL (especially the Ravens)
- Needs to change his mindset in terms of welcoming hits from linebackers and defensive backs; defenders undoubtedly hit harder in the pros
Floor Comparison: N’Keal Harry
Ceiling Comparison: Dez Bryant
How Shenault fits on the Ravens:
Drafting Shenault would add another level of unpredictability in the Ravens offense. The more playmakers the merrier, and I feel that Shenault would fit right in. With a year of development from Miles Boykin in addition to the superstar potential of Marquise Brown, Shenault wouldn't have to be thrown into the fire immediately with the expectation to produce big-time as a rookie. Greg Roman will use him in many different ways while refining his craft as a traditional wide receiver.
A long-term core of Brown, Boykin, and Shenault Jr. to complement the Ravens’ stable of tight ends would be a scary offense to deal with for years to come. Given Shenault[s experience of lining up in all three wide receiver spots, he would have a degree of comfortability in the Raven offense. At the same time, Shenault would have to take a fast-tracked pace of development in terms of his blocking. If he struggles in that department, his playing time will quickly dwindle.
That being said, Shenault’s long-term potential is very promising, especially if drafted by the Ravens.