Versatility, toughness will help CU Buffs’ Laviska Shenault in draft process

Long-time draft scout says there’s ‘zero doubt’ Colorado receiver goes in first round

BOULDER, CO - Aug. 3, 2019: ...
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Colorado’s Laviska Shenault has earned high praise as a speedy and tough receiver with unique NFL potential.

In 15 years of scouting and covering the NFL Draft, Cecil Lammey has seen exceptional talent year after year.

Colorado’s Laviska Shenault is unlike anyone Lammey has scouted.

“We’ve never seen a Laviska Shenault,” said Lammey, an NFL insider for 104.3 The Fan in Denver. “He’s kind of a Julio Jones combined with a little Christian McCaffrey. Trying to do a pro comparison on Laviska Shenault is going to make my head explode this spring, because it’s a combination of star names at different positions.”

On Tuesday, Shenault declared for the 2020 draft, electing to forego his senior year and pursue his NFL dream. For the past year, Shenault has been viewed as a possible first-round pick, and Lammey said that hasn’t changed.

Shenault could be CU’s first first-round pick since tackle Nate Solder and cornerback Jimmy Smith in 2011.

“There’s no doubt that Laviska Shenault is a first-round pick; zero doubt,” Lammey said. “Now, where in the first round does he go? The answer we won’t truly get until the combine, until those medical evaluations. He should test off the charts. He should be one of the combine stars. But it’s really the behind-the-scenes medical check that he’ll have with 32 teams, basically as they poke and prod him all weekend in Indianapolis. That’s going to determine, is he a top-10 pick, like he was before the start of the season?

“Everyone felt he would be among one of the first wide receivers taken and at least a top 10 pick. Now, he’s still a lock for the first round from the people that I talk to; it just depends on does his draft stock slide a little bit because of the injury history that he’s had at Colorado?”

Shenault missed three games during the 2018 season and had toe and shoulder surgeries after that season. This year, he missed just one full game, but dealt with a core muscle injury and various ailments throughout the season.

Lammey compared Shenault to Marquise Brown, who went 25th overall to the Baltimore Ravens this past spring. A receiver from Oklahoma, Brown had a Lisfrac injury that prevented him from working out for teams before the draft, but his talent and potential were off the charts.

“He was still a first-round pick, and Laviska is better than Marquise Brown,” Lammey said.

Shenault is part of a receiver class that Lammey said “is probably the best wide receiver class I’ve ever scouted in 15 years.” That’s impressive considering the 2014 class included Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans, Sammy Watkins, Brandin Cooks and Kelvin Benjamin (CU’s Paul Richardson was a second-round pick that year).

The 2020 receiver class could include Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III, Clemson’s Tee Higgins and Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb.

Shenault has an advantage because he’s so versatile and has displayed running back ability at CU.

“More coaches are just going to draft really good players and then figure it out,” Lammey said. “I think you could play him no matter where you want. People might see a ‘WR’ next to his name, but scouts already know he’s basically just a football player. I think he’s an ‘OW’ – he’s an offensive weapon, so that gives him an advantage. Laviska is pretty much anything you want him to be. Your imagination runs wild with how he can be used in the NFL.”

It also helps Shenault that he’s played through injuries and doesn’t carry the label of a “100 percenter,” meaning he doesn’t have to feel 100 percent to play or be effective.

“Scouts are definitely noticing the toughness,” Lammey said. “That’s always key for players when they come out of college. Guys like Laviska, how could you not love not only his skill set, but his toughness and his love for the game? He just wants to get out there.”

A search of about 20 mock drafts on Tuesday night showed that all have Shenault going in the first round, somewhere between No. 14 and No. 30.

Leaving early

The 10 players from Colorado that have declared early for the NFL Draft (all left after their junior seasons):

1993 – DT Leonard Renfro: 1st round (Eagles)

1994 – RB Lamont Warren: 6th round (Colts)

1995 – RB Rashaan Salaam: 1st round (Bears)

1995 – DE Shannon Clavelle: 6th round (Bills)

2000 – CB Ben Kelly: 3rd round (Dolphins)

2003 – RB Chris Brown: 3rd round (Titans)

2013 – OT David Bakhtiari: 4th round (Packers)

2014 – WR Paul Richardson: 2nd round (Seahawks)

2018 – CB Isaiah Oliver: 2nd round (Falcons)

2020 – WR Laviska Shenault: TBD