Shenault heads to northern Florida as a projected starter in his rookie season, along side former Heisman finalist Dede Westbrook and DJ Chark Jr. The DeSoto, Texas native built a solid resume at Colorado with 2,223 all-purpose yards and 17 total touchdowns in 31 career games. Shenault joins Jaguars quarterback and fellow Pac-12 phenom Gardner Minshew to help bolster Jacksonville’s offense that averaged 341.7 yards per game last season.
Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Marrone expressed their thoughts on drafting Shenault. Here are their comments from last night’s press conference and introduction to Viska to the media.
Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone:
“I think with a player like Laviska Shenault Jr., we feel there are multiple areas where he can make plays. You may not have known about him before, but you may have saw a couple of highlights they showed where he was a Wildcat quarterback and lined up in the backfield as a running back and moved all over. He is just a tough guy. 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”
On Viska’s being versatile in his offensive scheme
“I talked to him. Obviously, we feel he has the size and the speed to play outside. After we had drafted him and I got on the phone with him, both [Offensive Coordinator] Jay [Gruden] and I had a plan. We talked about how we’re going to do it and how we’re going to use him. I told him, 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. You see it on his tape in 2018 and 2019. That’s one of the things that we looked at; we went back there, and 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.’ Because if he can, make no mistake about it, we want to be able to do those things.”
On the feedback given by Wide Receivers Coach Keenan McCardell on Shenault
“Keenan is a guy that has played the position. He’s always done a very good job of evaluating the receiver position along with our scouts, and has always done a good job of developing guys in that position. He has great insight. So anyone who has great insight and is a good evaluator, you’re going to listen to him. It’s part of the process. You know, our scouts are at schools talking to those coaches, our coaches talk to them, [Offensive Coordinator] Jay Gruden has to look at them, see how he likes them, I’ve got to look at them. So there’s a lot of things that go on and Keenan’s obviously going to play an important role in this kid’s future. He’s going to be in that meeting room. He’s going to learn from him. He’s going to work. He’s going to become a better football player just because he’s got a good coach like Keenan McCardell.”
Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell
On what he likes about Shenault and if 2019’s stats were caused by injury
“Yeah, I think so, and as you guys know, our scouts, they’re already working on next year’s draft. By the time summer comes along and the next college season starts, we’ll already have grades on probably about 400-500 guys in next year’s draft. Coming out of this time last year, he was our highest rated receiver. When you look at his 2018 tape, he was a guy that we’ve been targeting and looking at, following, and you saw his play dip and when you realized some of the reasons why, the kid is tough as nails. He played through some things that players at our level haven’t played through over the course of a season. 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.”
On the grade given to Shenault and if he was a first-round prospect
“Unbeknownst to a lot of people, we don’t put round grades on players, but that’s a good question and every team is different. We kind of set the board based on what we feel a player’s value is and we thought he would be what we call a three-down starter for us, so we thought he was a starter and we kind of placed him in a ranking order. We would have had no issue taking him in the first round, if that answers your question. Obviously he had the skill set and like we said off of his ’18 film, 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. He still had a very good season, it was just a step down from ’18. And then with the receiver class as big as it was, I just think he kind of fell by the wayside a little bit, but we’re happy that he did and we’re happy to make him a Jag.”
On where Shenault is health-wise and if he’ll be ready for camp
“He’s fine. He’s cleared now. Our team doctors and our training staff have a good grade on them. He had a very minor procedure done after the Combine that a lot of our players have done at the end of seasons and stuff like that, so he’s good. He’s running routes. He’s out there moving around and, in speaking with people around him, our doctors felt that this procedure he had really is going to make him right, make him whole and correct a lot of his underlying issues that he may have had throughout the season.”