*WR grades can and will change as more information comes in from Pro Day workouts, Wonderlic test results leaked, etc. We will update ratings as new info becomes available.

*WR-B stands for "Big-WR," a classification we use to separate the more physical, downfield/over-the-top, heavy-red-zone-threat-type WRs. Our WR-S/"Small-WRs" are profiled by our computer more as slot and/or possession-type WRs who are typically less physical and rely more on speed/agility to operate underneath the defense and/or use big speed to get open deep...they are not used as weapons in the red zone as much. 


Looking at a brief amount of tape of a limited number of WR prospects in the summer of 2019…I thought Laviska Shenault was far and away the best WR prospect of the small group I watched back then – better than ‘the usual suspects’ Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, and Tee Higgins. I didn’t think it was close…Shenault seemed far and away above them.

When I did WR prospect previews in Jan.-Feb. 2020 for the NFL Combine, I had Shenault #3 behind Michael Pittman and Chase Claypool. Shenault is just not the size, athlete, technician WR talent that Pittman-Claypool are…his gifts are totally different, so it’s difficult comparing their games/abilities in some senses.

Now, after I’ve scouted nine of the top WR prospects quite a bit deeper over the past week (post-Combine), Shenault is starting to fade in my mind’s eye. He’s talented, and has something to bring to the table, but he’s just not the talent some of the top guys are. His Combine was disappointing - he had a core muscle injury which hampered him, and he left early. That’s part of the Shenault big picture problem, as a prospect – he’s been hurt a bunch in his short college career (core, foot, and shoulder surgeries).

With this deeper study, I wanted to know if Shenault should be considered for the #1/best in class WR prospect ranking or if there were too many issues…and, perhaps, too much hype. After going through this deeper, I’m starting to think Shenault is more myth than not. Not that he’s a bust, not at all. He’s really talented and might end up a top 5 or so WR prospect ranking in this class for us – but I don’t see #1/best in class. In fact, I see more issues than I wanted to see with this deeper study.

Let me just cut to the chase of who I think Shenault is…he’s a slower Deebo Samuel/A.J. Brown type player. More Deebo than anything, but not as good as Deebo. I know everyone is looking for ‘their Deebo’ now, in the media/for this draft, and Shenault is a version, but Deebo is probably the better Deebo than Shenault. 

What Shenault has more than anything, what will make him valuable/good – he’s about as tough as they come. He’s built like a power tailback and fearless. When you get Shenault the ball and he gets a head of steam going – he’s very tough to bring down. Corners will have difficulty bringing him down after the catch. Shenault has a gift – the gift of ‘power’. Likely the most powerful WR prospect in this draft (we’ll see if Virginia’s Joe Reed might be a better, tougher version of the Deebo-a-likes in the days to come when I study him deeper). 

Shenault is built powerfully, plays strong and aggressive with enough NFL speed…and is fearless. He’s not over his head for the next level, he just might be ‘not as great’ as everyone says/is telling him. 

Here are the downside issues I noted watching Shenault tape from 2019 and 2018…

 -- Shenault is not as fast as I thought. That 4.59 40-time he ran at the Combine, and that people are thinking might be ‘bad’ because of his injury. I don’t know…I think he looks like a 4.5+ runner. That’s not terrible, it’s just not radically good. Some people thought he was low 4.4s. I don’t see blazing speed on his 2018 or 2019 tape…good speed, not great. I didn’t see that real high-end breakaway speed on tape.

 -- Now, you can go find tape of Shenault making nice plays with breakaway speed on his highlight reel…which brings up another issue – a lot of his big games/plays happened against very weak opponents/defenses. Shenault was set up to look good/fast against Air Force, UCLA, Washington State type opponents.

-- I did not see a big ‘wiggle’, elusiveness, ability to shake-and-bake tacklers into missing a tackle. When he tried to shake in the open field…it doesn’t look great. It doesn’t look like a lot of the higher-end athletes I just watched the last few days.

Shenault with a head of steam is a potential Mack truck. Shenault in close quarters trying to juke tacklers…he looks heavy-footed and gets caught up to/brought down easier than I expected. This lack of elusiveness would make me worry he’s not going to translate to as special a weapon as portrayed.

 -- The lack of agility hurts him running interior and timing routes like a technician WR. If you wanted a WR to have the ball off a bubble screen with blockers and time to get rolling – you’d want Shenault not CeeDee Lamb to have that ball. However, if you wanted a guy to get open on 3rd & 7 using smart routes, sharp cuts, with reliable hands in traffic…that’s where you want CeeDee Lamb (as an example comparison of these two WRs).

In fact, as I watched Shenault run basic in routes…five or so yards and cut to the inside for a slant or crossing throw -- he looks lost half the time. His route running and awareness as a technician WR never looked all that smooth in 2018 or 2019…nor was he ditching his coverage with great feet to get open deep. Shenault is usually covered tightly, not wide open, short or medium or deep. Shenault is more bubbles and bombs, and if he isn’t high grade enough on all the bubbles and if he’s a bit short/slower for bombs…we might have some problems with Shenault finding his way to stardom in the NFL. Toughness for days, but also some holes in his game he might not be able to overcome to become a star. 

Shenault or Deebo…I take Deebo. 

Shenault or A.J. Brown…that’s a tough call. Brown the better athlete, Shenault the tougher willed option/more heart and determination and grit.

I used to worry Shenault was maybe an off-field issue, or not-too-swift but the more I studied his background the more I realized that’s not true. He’s had a difficult life – coming from a good, quality family…he lost his dad tragically at age 10 – his father hit by a car in the road, an event that he witnessed/had to live with/messed him up for a while. The family was wrecked, and an economic plight ensued. A few years later, his mom developed West Nile Virus when it hit Texas for a stretch. She survived but it further brought the family and their economics to their knees. He and his family have been through the wringer. I hope Laviska becomes a top star and makes a ton of money to take care of his family. I really do.

But I think Shenault is more in the ‘B’ grade range of upside prospect than a possible ‘A’ best in class. I wouldn’t rule out best in class, that he ‘wills’  his way or out-toughs his way to it – but the more I watch, and the more I want to believe, the more red flags I see on the field that have me a bit worried.

Shenault is my ‘I thought…’ prospect of 2020. I thought he was taller/bigger. I thought he had bigger hands. I thought he was faster. I thought he was more agile. I thought he was a better receiver. I thought he was the best WR prospect for 2020 back in the summer of 2019, I do not believe that now.



Laviska Shenault, Through the Lens of Our WR Scouting Algorithm:

Shenault hit the scene like a whirlwind in 2018. His first 5 games of the season – 10.2 rec., 121.6 rec. yards, 1.1 rec. TDs, 2.0 total TDs per game. It was unreal…but then you look, and it was against Colorado State, Nebraska, New Hampshire, UCLA, Arizona State. So, it happened against the 117th (of 130), 88th, 104th, 53rd ranked defenses in 2018…and one FCS opponent. A sweet 5-0 start for the Buffaloes and Shenault was putting up Heisman numbers. 

From that point on, Shenault played 15 games for the rest of his college career…the Buffs went 5-10 in those games, and he averaged 7.2 rec, 71.1 rec. yards, and 0.47 TDs per game – numbers way off his first five games of 2018 pace that got everyone ‘lit’ on him. 

Shenault had 6 receiving TDs in that five-game burst to start 2018 and then 4 receiving TDs the next 15 games, as people figured him out (he was a nobody in 2017 going into 2018), and as the schedule got tougher (though not really all that tough). He played with the same QB (Steven Montez) those two seasons…not a great QB, but a guy likely to get drafted…he’s not nothing. If Shenault is such a playmaker – how could he just fall off so hard? I just think maybe he’s a bit overrated from his big splash onto the scene in 2018 and no one is adjusting to the reality.

I first thought it was the offense’s or QB’s fault…or whatever, as to why Shenault fell off from 2018. But the more I look, the more I think with more games the reality of his skills set in – pretty good not very good or great. Not special. Possibly a tougher time adjusting at the next level than we think.

2020 NFL Combine Measurables…

6’0.5”/227, 9” hands, 31 7/8” arms

4.58 40-time (skipped the rest with his core injury)

17 bench press (skipped the rest)

The Historical WR Prospects to Whom Laviska Shenault Most Compares Within Our System:

It has to be A.J. Brown and Deebo Samuel because they are the best examples of ‘plus’ sized WRs, built like RBs, who work like RBs occasionally. Not many guys like that prior to 2018. 

For some, Shenault could be the best of the Deebo-A.J.-Laviska…and I see that possibility, that he’s just the toughest/baddest guy on the block in that style. I just see some flaws that make me think he’s a bit lesser talent than them. Hopefully, I’ll be wrong and he’s the best of them. 


WR Score

Draft Yr







Power Strngth Metric

Speed Agility Metric

Hands' Metric
















Ole Miss











So. Carolina





























*A score of 7.0+ is where we start to take a Big-WR prospect more seriously. A score of 8.50+ is where we see a stronger correlation of a Big-WR going on to become NFL good/great/elite. A score of 10.00+ is more rarefied air in our system and indicates a greater probability of becoming an elite NFL Big-WR.

All of the WR ratings are based on a 0–10 scale, but a player can score negative, or above a 10.0 in certain instances.

Overall WR score = A combination of several on-field performance measures, including refinement for strength of opponents faced, mixed with all the physical measurement metrics, and rated historically in our database.

“Power-Strength” = A combination of unique metrics surrounding physical size profiling, bench press strength, etc.  High scorers here project to be more physical, better blockers, and less injury-prone.

“Speed-Agility” = A combination of unique metrics surrounding speed, agility, physical size, mixed with some on-field performance metrics. High scorers here project to have a better YAC and show characteristics to be used as deep threats/to create separation.

“Hands” = A combination of unique metrics surrounding on-field performance in college, considering the strength of opponents played. Furthermore, this data considers some physical profiling for hand size, etc. High scorers here have a better track record of college statistical performance. Everything combining to project catch-abilities for the next level.

2020 NFL Draft Outlook:

Some mock drafters had Shenault as a late 1st-round pick pre-Combine, I think that’s all but dead now…the question is probably more – is Shenault going to fall to the 3rd-round? I think with the hype surrounding people looking for ‘their Deebo’, Shenault will find his way into the 2nd-round…probably later 2nd. 

If I were an NFL GM, for the 2nd-round price – I pass on Shenault. There are way better WR bargains in the 2nd-round and Virginia’s Joe Reed may be a similar Shenault at a much cheaper draft price. 


NFL Outlook:   

Really wide range of outcomes. Shenault will likely be a solid hand. Make some tough plays. Endear himself to fans and coaches, but never really is that ‘star’ on the upside…just a solid, tough hand you want on NFL teams.