BOULDER, Colo. (BVM) — The Jacksonville Jaguars drafted Laviska Shenault 42nd overall in the 2020 NFL Draft with the confidence that he could be an immediate contributor on offense as a rookie.
It didn’t take him long to begin making an impact.
The former Colorado Buffaloes standout wide receiver scored his first NFL touchdown in his first game, hauling in a 15-yard pass from quarterback Gardner Minshew late in the first half of the Jaguars’ surprising 27-20 Week 1 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) September 13, 2020
Shenault finished the opener with 37 yards on 3 receptions and he also had a pair of rushes for 10 yards. He played 31 of Jacksonville’s 50 snaps on offense, lining up on the outside, in the slot, and in the backfield in shotgun formations, as a quarterback in the wildcat formation, and as a true running back with Minshew under center.
The 6-foot-1, 227-pound receiver is part of the Jaguars’ largest draft class in franchise history and he was one of 11 rookies to play for the team Sunday. Several of them made their presence felt, including running back James Robinson who rushed for 62 yards on 16 carries and cornerback CJ Henderson who recorded his first career interception. Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone expected immediate contributions from not only Shenault, but all of the first-year players who saw action in Week 1.
“When you say, ‘expect impact,’ I think you have to expect that out of anyone you put on the field,” Marrone said during Monday’s press conference. “I just think it would be wrong to put someone out there and go, ‘Nah, we don’t think this guy’s going to make any impact; let’s just line him up there.’”
Despite forgoing his senior year with the Buffaloes, Shenault left CU ranking eighth all-time in receptions (149) and 11th in receiving yards (1,943). He scored 108 points on 18 touchdowns, 10 of which were receiving, and he was just the sixth player in school history to be named team MVP multiple times. Shenault drew praise for his unique blend of size, speed and explosiveness from his new coaches and teammates all throughout his first NFL training camp, leading to the expectation that the versatile receiver would immediately play a big role in the Jags’ offense.
Wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell, a two-time Pro Bowl wideout who played seven years with Jacksonville, compared Shenault to the likes of former NFL star Andre Johnson, who was a five-time All-Pro with the Houston Texans.
“You know, I hold Andre in high regards, that’s my guy, we’re good friends,” McCardell said during a training camp media conference. “But I’ve also seen him [Shenault] work every day. I see the power that he has, he kind of reminds me a little bit of Andre, he has that type of power. And I don’t want to put those shoes out there for him because those are some huge shoes to fill, but you know, he has that type of body type.”
It’s a lofty comparison, but what appears to be a promising career for the former Buff is certainly off to a good start in Jacksonville.