2020 NFL Draft: Colorado’s Laviska Shenault has all-pro potential

Laviska Shenault has been key in the resurgence of Colorado Football, and he is intent on establishing himself as the premier pass-catcher in the 2020 NFL Draft.

The University of Colorado football team has accumulated an underwhelming 34-66 record since 2011. Laviska Shenault is intent on changing the perception of Colorado football in 2019, en route to establishing himself as one of the premier pass-catchers in the 2020 NFL Draft. “I know we’ve been cooking up something special,” Shenault said. “I just believe (the) humble way is the better way to go.”

The Beginning

Well before he earned all-conference glory and garnered All-American consideration, Laviska Shenault was developing his talents at DeSoto High School. As a senior, the Texas native led his team to a 16-0 record, which culminated in the Class 6A Division II state title, the first in school history. The star receiver finished off his senior campaign with 46 catches for 825 yards and nine touchdowns.

On the heels of an eye-opening final season, Shenault was selected to play in the U.S. Under-19 National Team against Canada, in the North American Championship at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Fla.

Coming out of high school, Shenault received 12 offers from schools, including Alabama, Missouri, LSU, Arkansas, Kansas State, and Colorado.

Colorado

Despite joining a formidable receiving corps that featured the likes of Bryce Bobo, Devin Ross, and Jay MacIntyre, Shenault made an immediate impact as a true freshman.

In just seven games, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound wideout racked up 168 yards on seven catches and became the 15th player in school history to find the end zone on his first collegiate touch: a 55-yard fumble return against Texas State.

While Shenault’s first season offered a mere glimpse of what he could develop into, his second season announced his arrival to the country.

Following a strong offseason, Shenault worked his way up the receiver pecking order and, by the end of fall camp, found his name atop the Buffaloes’ depth chart.

The ascending sophomore became a household name across the nation in 2018, hauling in 86 passes for 1,011 and six touchdowns. His best outings came against eighth-ranked Washington State (10-102), Nebraska (10-177), and Colorado State (11-211).

Shenault transformed from a seldom-used freshman into a bonafide asset for the Buffaloes. He demonstrated the versatility to line up outside and in the slot, and even produced as a running back in the wildcat formation.

Shenault won’t be sneaking up on defenders in 2019, however.

Coming off All-Pac-12 honors, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound do-it-all weapon appeared on the Biletnikoff and Maxwell Award preseason watch list. He has been tabbed as a first-team Preseason All-American and first-team Preseason All-Pac-12 candidate by Phil Steele. After 21 games, Shenault ranks 20th in receptions (93) and 21st in receiving yards (1,179).

He’ll be entering the season as one of the brightest stars in college football, one who could conceivably his name called in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

2020 NFL Draft Outlook

Shenault fits the prototype of a number one option in an NFL passing attack. His elite size on the perimeter gives him a distinct advantage against slighter cornerbacks, and his quickness on the inside makes it hard for slot defenders to get a bead on him.

Most recently, Shenault has drawn comparisons to former Clemson star Sammy Watkins. When comparing college film, it’s a legitimate one.

While Watkins may have been a bit more refined as a receiver in this stage of his career, he too filled a multitude of roles for his offense. Watkins could routinely rise and pluck the ball away with defenders closing in and was lethal when it came to manufacturing yards after the catch.

Perhaps an even better comparison would be Falcons all-world receiver, Julio Jones. Like Jones, Shenault is athletically gifted, boasts a sculpted physique, strong hands, and downfield speed. While Shenault’s underdeveloped route running has caused some concern among NFL teams, Jones was also regarded as raw in terms of route running coming out of Alabama.

As the NFL continues its trend of spread offenses, more and more teams are finding creative ways to get the ball into their best playmaker’s hands. Athletically gifted players, like Tyreek Hill and DJ Moore, have forced offensive coordinators to think outside the box and to utilize their rare talents best. These players are X-factors on the football field.

When the college season rolls around, players like Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy or Clemson’s Tee Higgins will undoubtedly get most of the notoriety. Shenault aspires to be mentioned in the same breath by season’s end, affirming himself as a surefire first-round talent in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Andrew DiCecco is a writer for PFN covering the NFL Draft. You can follow him on twitter @ADiCeccoNFL

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