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NFL scouts are high on Buffs wide receiver Laviska Shenault

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

The NFL Draft is always on my mind. I will soon be on my annual “All-Star Road Trip,” when I travel around the country to the Shrine Bowl and the Senior Bowl to scout some of the incoming class of rookies to the NFL. I follow up that adventure, where I mostly seeing senior players and juniors who have graduated, by next going to the Scouting Combine to see the rest of the top players in the class.

One of the best players to declare for the draft so far is University of Colorado wide receiver Laviska Shenault. On Tuesday, Shenault announced that he was going to forego his senior season and enter the 2020 NFL Draft.

After the announcement, I reached out to a few of my scouting buddies who work in the NFL just to get a quick response or two about the young playmaker. Here is what those scouts told me about Shenault’s game and his prospects at the pro level.


Medicals Will Be Everything

All three of the scouts I reached out to had concerns about the injury history of Shenault. Each told me that Shenault’s medical examinations at the Scouting Combine will be key for his draft stock.

After his breakout 2018 season, where Shenault had 86 catches for 1,011 receiving yards and six receiving touchdowns, the versatile wide receiver had to have surgeries on his rotator cuff and his toe. Shenault has a violent style as a wide receiver and uses his physicality to make plays when the ball is in the air and after the catch he is difficult to bring down. He can break tackles like a running back and does not shy away from contact. These are great traits to have, but it certainly can (and did) take a toll on his body.

In 2019, Shenault was considered day-to-day early in the season with a core injury he suffered against Arizona State in late September. His numbers were down in 2019, and Shenault caught just 56 passes for 764 yards and four touchdowns.

Despite his injury history, Shenault is seen as a first-round lock by the scouts I talk to. Where he goes depends on his medical reports.


Star Power

My first text reply was “Shenault is going to be a superstar.” That’s a bold statement, but it is most certainly not outlandish by any means.

Shenault ended his Colorado career with eight 100-yard receiving game in 19 career starts. He leaves CU with 145 receptions (No. 8 all-time) and 1,900 receiving yards (No. 11 all-time). Turn on the film, and you can clearly see how Shenault has that “star power” to his game.

Shenault can catch passes that most can’t get to. He has crazy body control and can make circus catches seem routine. His concentration is top notch, and Shenault will make jaw-dropping catches that most college receivers couldn’t even dream of making.

He’s been pro ready since his breakout season in 2018. Shenault is a player teams fear and he’s got to be a featured player when game-planning against the Buffs. In addition to his receiving ability, Shenault can run the ball or even play some wildcat quarterback.


Not Really a Wide Receiver

Many people wonder where Shenault is going to fit best at the pro level. All the scouts I texted with say that he will be a wide receiver, but the team that gets him should use him in the slot and as a running back too.

Shenault has an interesting skill set, measuring in at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds. My pro comparison is an interesting one; but I think this is the most accurate I can currently come up with. Shenault is a mix of Julio Jones and Christian McCaffrey.

Earlier this fall, one of the brightest minds in football scouting, Greg Cosell, said that Shenault’s game is similar to that of DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins. Those are lofty comparisons too, but neither takes into account the danger that Shenault gives you as a runner.

There may be a “WR” next to his name on an NFL roster, but Shenault is more than just a wide receiver. He is an “OW” or “offensive weapon” that can be used in a variety of ways. The team that drafts Shenault needs to know that he can do more than most wide receivers and can be an impact player as a runner too.