The wait is over for Laviska Shenault.
After questions about his health and durability forced his first-round talent out of the opening round of the NFL draft, Colorado’s standout receiver did not have to wait long to hear his name on Friday, as the Jacksonville Jaguars selected Shenault with the 10th pick of the second round (42nd overall).
Shenault becomes the Buffs highest selection in the draft since both Nate Solder and Jimmy Smith were selected in the first round in 2011. Shenault is the 10th underclassman from CU to get selected in the NFL draft and the 273rd NFL draft pick overall that called CU home.
He is just the second Buffs player to be selected by Jacksonville and the first since the Jaguars took former CU cornerback Chris Hudson in the third round of the 1995 draft.
The Buffs enjoyed another big moment before Friday night’s second and third rounds were complete, as speedy outside linebacker Davion Taylor went to Philadelphia late in the third round (103rd overall).
“Definitely had first round hopes, but, I mean, at the end of the day it is what it is,” Shenault said following the draft. “I understand everything happens for a reason, but I’m just ready to work, to be honest. That’s really all there is to that.”
Shenault caught 142 passes for 1,775 yards and 10 touchdowns over the past two seasons, adding another 276 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. Overall, Shenault finished his CU career ranked eighth all-time in program history in receptions (149), 11th in receiving yards (1,943), and 25th in yards from scrimmage (2,223). Depiste playing just 32 games, Shenault’s eight 100-yard receiving games is tied for fifth in CU history.
Shenault posted those gaudy numbers while often struggling to stay on the field. In 2018, he missed three games and played at less than 100 percent after returning, undergoing offseason surgery for a torn labrum and an injured toe. Last season, he was injured early in the fourth game of the season at Arizona State and missed the next game against Arizona. At the draft combine in February, Shenault was forced to cut short his workouts due to a core muscle injury that required surgery.
“Well I think we did basically two years’ work on him and like I mentioned earlier he had some statistics that weren’t as high this year, but really if this kid would have been draft-eligible last year and come out he probably would have been a top 10, top 15 pick,” Jacksonville’s director of college scouting, Mark Ellenz, said during a conference call. “We had a lot of high grades on him from what would have been his sophomore year and we still had high grades on him on this year. Taking in the consideration of injuries, I think that’s why he was here in the second round. But he’s big, he’s athletic, he’s fast, he’s a very physical player and he did a lot of different things in the Colorado offensive lineup.”
Shenault will try to bolster a Jacksonville offense that ranked 16th in the the NFL last season in passing yards per game, 20th in total yards, and 26th in scoring. Shenault was the Jaguars’ top offensive pick, as Jacksonville used its two first round picks on defense, selecting Florida cornerback CJ Henderson with the ninth overall pick and LSU linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson at No. 20.
In a receiver-rich draft, Shenault had to sit through the opening round on Thursday in which six wideouts, including Arizona State’s Brandon Aiyuk, were selected within the first 25 picks. Two other wide receivers were selected ahead of Shenault in the second round, with Clemson’s Tee Higgins going to Cincinnati with the first pick of the second round (33rd overall) and USC’s Michael Pittman Jr. going second (34th overall) to Indianapolis.
By the end of the second round, 13 of the draft’s 64 picks were wide receivers. Taylor became the first CU player selected by the Eagles since receiver Jeremy Bloom was taken by Philadelphia in the fifth round of the 2006 draft.
Former CU quarterback Steven Montez could learn his professional fate on Saturday, as the fourth through seventh rounds begin at 10 a.m. MT.