‘Rare Breed of Athlete’ Compared to Saquon Barkley in Hot Draft Take

Pro Football Focus compares Colorado's Laviska Shenault Jr. and Giants WR Saquon Barkley

Getty Pro Football Focus compares Colorado's Laviska Shenault Jr. and Giants WR Saquon Barkley

University of Colorado wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. is one of the 2020 NFL Draft‘s more enigmatic, yet highly-beloved prospects in the entire class.

Many have questioned his wide receiver traits, pointing towards limitations as a route runner, while others have pegged him the next Julio Jones.

Others believe he’d be best served to switch positions to running back in the NFL, something previously stated by draft expert Connor Rogers on the Stick to Football Podcast. Many deemed the thought of a position change for the potential first-round wideout a scorching hot take. Yet, if Pro Football Focus’s most recent pro comparison for Shenault Jr. holds on weight, the idea may not be so far fetched.

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PFF Compares Laviska Shenault to Saquon Barkley

VideoVideo related to ‘rare breed of athlete’ compared to saquon barkley in hot draft take2020-03-05T10:54:27-05:00

Shenault Jr. just received the comparison of a lifetime by Pro Football Focus’s Mike Renner. The Colorado wideout, who PFF’s panel deemed a “rare breed of athlete” was mentioned in the same breath as New York Giants superstar Saquon Barkley as his NFL comp.

“He’s an athlete that got thrown at wide receiver, easily could have gotten thrown at running back, or thrown at basically anywhere on the football field and that’s why I think a good comparision for him is Saquon Barkley.”

“What makes Saquon Barkley, Saquon Barkley is just that explosiviness, the ability to make guys miss, the ability to hit a homerun from a swing pass, that’s what Shenault brings to the table…you get the ball in his hands and good things will happen.”

While we at Heavy don’t see the same Saquon Barkley-like talent from the former Colorado standout that PFF may, we do agree that he’s most dangerous with the ball in his hands. In our latest 2020 NFL Draft Wide Receiver Rankings, we compared Shenault Jr. to the likes of Sammy Watkins coming out of college, while forecasting his usage at the next level to look eerily similar to that of 49ers wideout Deebo Samuel’s.

8) Laviska Shenault Jr. | WR | Colorado

Shenault was supposed to be a top-10 pick. Some even pegged him as the next Julio Jones. To me, he’s the next Sammy Watkins. The majority of his touches were manufactured at Colorado, similar to Watkins’ tape at Clemson. He’s a running back with a wide receiver designation. Expect teams to use him similar to the way Deebo Samuel was used in his rookie season with the Niners.

Shenault Jr. Injury Update

While Laviska Shenault Jr. may be likened to Saquon Barkley by some from examining game film, his combine performance certainly fell short of Barkley’s standout showing back in 2018.

Shenault Jr. ran the 40-yard dash in a not awful, but surprising 4.58 seconds. He also opted out of performing any other combine drills aside from the bench press, where he put up 225 pounds for 17 reps. However, his underwhelming performance likely had much to do with a core muscle injury he has been dealing with, something that he quickly had surgery on following the combine, this according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Rapoport also stated that the recovery time following the wideout’s surgery is expected to be approximately six to eight weeks, meaning that Shenault Jr. will not be able to participate at the Colorado pro day on March 11th.

While the core injury appears to be minuscule in the grand scheme of things, in such a deep wide receiver class, his murky combine performance, questionable ability to win on the outside as a wideout, and injury concerns may very well cause the one time top-10 lock to slide out of the first-round all together.

READ NEXT: 2020 NFL Mock Draft: 5 QBs in Top-15

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