Colorado receiver Laviska Shenault compares himself to NFL stars Larry Fitzgerald, Julio Jones and Jarvis Landry.
He believes he has Fitzgerald’s business-like approach, Jones’ do-everything ability and Landry’s on-field attitude. The Jacksonville Jaguars love his confidence and feel like it could serve him well at the next level.
Jacksonville gave quarterback Gardner Minshew another target by selecting Shenault in the second round of the NFL draft Friday. The Jaguars took Shenault with the 42nd overall choice in hopes that he will emerge as a passing threat opposite Pro Bowl receiver DJ Chark.
The Jaguars released Marqise Lee earlier this week, leaving them with three wideouts — Chris Conley, Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole — entering the final year of their contracts.
“If this kid would have been draft-eligible last year and come out, he probably would have been a top-10, top-15 pick,” said Mark Ellenz, the team’s director of college scouting. “In person, he looks like a linebacker. He’s really good with his RAC, his run after catch, not only with burst and explosive speed, but he’s a strong kid and can break tackles.
Jacksonville added its third defender of the draft by selecting Ohio State nose tackle DaVon Hamilton in the third round, pick No. 73.
The 6-foot-4, 320-pound Hamilton waited for his chance to start as a senior and notched 28 tackles, including 10 1/2 for loss and six sacks in 14 starts in 2019. He will replace Marcell Dareus, whose contract option was not picked up last month. Jacksonville also signed journeyman Al Woods to a one-year deal in free agency.
Shenault also will face some competition for playing time.
The 6-foot-1, 227-pound Shenault had core muscle surgery following a lackluster performance in the NFL combine. But he could fit nicely in Jacksonville, which is moving to a west coast offense under new coordinator Jay Gruden and wants quicker passes intended to allow receivers to make plays after the catch.
Shenault led the Football Bowl Subdivision with 9.6 catches a game as a sophomore in 2018 and ranked fourth in the nation with 112.3 receiving yards a game. He caught 86 passes for 1,011 yards and six touchdowns that season for Colorado. He also scored on five of 17 carries, making him the only player in the country to have five rushing and receiving touchdowns.
“You can put him in the backfield. He can play wildcat. You can put him as (a slot) tight end. You can do a lot of things with him,” coach Doug Marrone said. “I said, ’Look, we can do all those things. But the whole key is going to be how well you grasp it, how well you pick it up.’ If he can, make no mistake about it, we want to be able to do those things.”
He was slowed a bit last season, first playing through a shoulder injury and then the core injury.
He finished his college career with 149 catches for 1,943 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also ran 42 times for 280 yards and seven scores.
“I can move around everywhere and do anything and dominate in different places and do what everyone loves,” Shenault said.
Shenault wears dreadlocks to honor his late father. Laviska Shenault Sr. died in July 2009 from injuries suffered after being hit by a car on the side of a highway after he had exited his vehicle to switch from the passenger seat to the driver’s seat. His mother, Annie, survived West Nile Virus.
Shenault Jr. wrote a letter to NFL general managers that was published in The Players Tribune in which he promised to “represent your organization with the same pride and respect that represent the values taught to me by my late father.”
Character is becoming a trend in Jacksonville, which has struggled the last two years while dealing with a fractured locker room. First-round picks CJ Henderson and K’Lavon Chaisson are considered clean character guys.
“It’s just another door opened,” Shenault said. “It’s another level, and there’s more levels, too. I’m not stopping right now. I’m going to keep on leveling up.”
The Jaguars have three picks in the fourth round Saturday and eight more total.
General manager Dave Caldwell took a big swing in the opening round at rebuilding a defense that was considered one of the best in the league just a few years ago. He chose speedy Florida cornerback Henderson ninth overall and added versatile pass-rusher Chaisson at No. 20.
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