Why the Slide?: Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado
By Charlie Campbell, @draftcampbell
Six years ago, we started a series of articles on why certain prospects went undrafted. In that series, I reach out to sources with NFL teams to find out why their organizations passed on drafting a given player, and/or, what were the reasons for other teams to pass on that prospect. We got a lot of positive reader feedback about the series, so we decided to expand in the genre to investigate why some prospects slid in the draft. Four years ago, we started the Why the Slide? series, and this year it is back. Feel free to email me requests for Why the Slide? and Why Undrafted? at email@example.com. I can't promise to get to all of them, but I will do my best and definitely will respond to the email.
During the 2018 season, Shenault was one of the most dangerous play-makers in college football. He recorded 86 receptions for 1,011 yards with six touchdowns on the year. He also carried the ball in short-yardage situations out of the wild cat with 115 yards and five scores on 17 carries. Shenault then had a frustrating 2019 season involving inconsistent quarterback play and misseing some action with injuries. Shenault also made some superb plays in limited opportunities, catching 52 passes for 721 yards and four touchdowns.
Team sources related that Shenault was dropped to the second day on draft boards across the league for a few reasons. The first of those was health. The repeated injuries at Colorado, along with Shenault needing core muscle surgery after the combine led to him having medical red flags with teams. On top of the injury, Shenault had a poor combine. He had a slow 40 time at 4.58 seconds and interviewed poorly with teams. The bad interviews led to some character and makeup concerns, which essentially sealed his fate to go later than the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
The Jacksonville Jaguars ended Shenault's fall in the second round, which was a mixed landing spot for him. On the positive side, the Jaguars needed another outside receiver to line up across from D.J. Chark with Dede Westbrook in the slot. Shenault also is a good fit for Jay Gruden's offense.
On the negative side, the Jaguars franchise is a mess. The front office is poorly run, and the locker room is toxic. There have been problems with Jacksonville's most talented players becoming disenchanted with the organization and wanting to leave the team, with the likes of Jalen Ramsey, Yannick Ngakoue, and Leonard Fournette all having issues. Those happen to be the best players the Jaguars have had on the roster over the past few years, and other teams in the league don't have these type of problems in alienating their best players.
Tom Coughlin was part of the problem, and while he's no longer with Jacksonville, head coach Doug Marrone has remained, and he is strongly disliked in the locker room. The players also have had issues with the team's ownership that have bubbled up into the public domain, including Ngakoue getting into a twitter fight with co-owner Tony Khan. Sources say the players are taking Ngakoue's side and there could be others who force their ways out. Thus, it is hard to be convinced that the Jaguars have the organization in place that can handle and smooth over the makeup issues that hurt Shenault around the league. I could see Shenault having some success before moving on to another team after having a falling out with the Jaguars organization. That would make it a bad return on investment for a high second-round pick and follow on Caldwell's draft history of mistakes like Luke Joeckel, Blake Bortles, Dante Fowler, Johnathan Cyprien and more.
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