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Jaguars to get creative with WR Laviska Shenault

The Jaguars are ready to deploy rookie Laviska Shenault in multiple spots next season.

USC v Colorado Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone wanted to add weapons to the offense, giving second-year quarterback Gardner Minshew II more pieces to work with. Well, on Friday the Jaguars followed suit with the selection of versatile receiver Laviska Shenault.

“He is just a tough guy,” Marrone said of Shenault during the team’s post-round virtual press conference. “He does not run out of bounds. He breaks tackles. He can really do a lot of things. He is physical, he is fast. The guy is a definite playmaker. We talked about getting playmakers on offense and today was the start of that.”

Shenault saw his most productive season as a sophomore in 2018, hauling in 86 receptions for 1,011 yards, and six touchdowns, while carrying the football 17 times for 115 yards, and five touchdowns.

His versatility was a major reason why the Jaguars liked him so much. A weapon who is a threat to score from anywhere on the field. That much was echoed by Jaguars director of college scouting Mark Ellenz.

“I think we can line him up from different areas, either inside or outside at receiver, maybe even use him out of the backfield,” said Ellenz following the selection via video conference call with the local Jaguars media. “I know a few of his touchdowns he scored in his career were like on reverses or jet sweeps. (Associated Press reporter) Mark (Long) had asked me, you see his run after catch with just the ball in his hands, you can see what he can do with the ball.”

In 2018, Shenault was credited with 7.3 yards-after-catch per reception, which ranked seventh in college football among 2020 draft eligible receivers, tied with 15th overall pick Jerry Jeudy.

Marrone spoke with Jaguars offensive coordinator and raved about the different ways the team could use the receiver. “I told [Gruden], I said, ‘Look, we have some plans,’ and you can put him in the backfield, he can play Wildcat, you can put him as the F-tight end, you can do a lot of things with him.”

If Shenault is able to get his head into the playbook early, the skies the limit for his ability, and of course, he will need to stay healthy.

Shenault was the receiver the Jaguars had always targeted at pick 42, Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell said on Friday. Prior to this year, the nifty receiver was thought by Jaguars scouts to be a top 10, top 15 selection, and the number one receiver for the team coming into the season. said Ellenz and Caldwell, respectively. However, due to injuries suffered in 2019, he fell.

“He played through some things that players at our level haven’t played through over the course of a season ,” said Caldwell. “He went through it all, went through the postseason, went through the combine and got his stuff taken care of. We feel that any issue that he had will be taken care of by the time that training camp comes along.”

“He’s tough as nails”, Caldwell added. Shenault played through a shoulder injury along with a core-muscle injury during his final season at Colorado, causing his production in 2019 to dip, only accounting for 764 receiving yards and six total touchdowns. In his career, Shenault also dealt with a toe injury.

Shenault would enter the combine with a core muscle injury, and as a result, ran a 4.55 40-yard dash. The Colorado receiver told the media on Friday he believes if he were fully healthy he would have been able to run in the “4.39-4.44” range. That much is evident on tape.

The general manager says team doctors have a “good grade” on his health, and stated that following a minor procedure, reportedly a core-muscle surgery, the receiver is already running around, running routes and should be ready to go soon, something that will “correct a lot of his underlying issues that he may have had throughout the season.”

Caldwell said that while the team does not use round-grades on players, the team instead uses value to set their board. The Jaguars had Shenault down as a three-down starter, and would have had no issue in taking him in the first round. “...we thought going into the season he would have been in the mix with Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb and the [Henry] Ruggs of the world.”