Even though the Jacksonville Jaguars’ wide receiver corps didn’t get a favorable spot in Pro Football Focus recent ranking, there’s no doubt the unit is in better shape than it was last year after the addition of Christian Kirk and Zay Jones in free agency. However, there not the only receivers on the Jags’ roster that might have a big impact in 2022.
Chris Trapasso of CBS Sport recently drew up a list of third-year players poised to have a breakout season in 2022 and Laviska Shenault Jr. was among those who made the cut. Trapasso notes that Viska has been “solid but hardly noticeable” over the last two seasons, amassing 1,219 yards in that span. He then proceeds to praise Shenault’s skillset.
"In watching all of Trevor Lawrence’s dropbacks last season, Shenault’s tremendous cutting skills and tackle-breaking ability were apparent every game. He forced 20 missed tackles in 2021, the second-most among all receivers in the NFL, behind only receiving triple crown winner Cooper Kupp. And Kupp forced 24 missed tackles on 145 receptions. Shenault’s 20 forced missed tackles came on 63 passes. Absurd."
Trapasso points out that “there won’t be many targets to go around” due to the presence of Christian Kirk but he still believes Shenault will thrive. Head coach Doug Pederson told the media he would exempt most veterans for Monday’s mandatory minicamp but still required injured players, rookies, and selected veterans to attend. Shenault was part of the selected veterans that showed up, according to Mia O’Brien of 1010 XL. This may not or may not mean something in the greater scheme of things but Shenault must make every single offseason rep count.
Jaguars WR Laviska Shenault is entering a crucial year in his career
Signing Christian Kirk and Zay Jones didn’t necessarily spell doom for Shenault in Jacksonville. However, it did show they might not see him having a feature role in 2022. After all, the team’s brass paid a premium for Kirk and Jones and they won’t likely want their investment to spend too much time watching from the sidelines.
Trapasso is right when he says Shenault has the skill set to become a pretty good receiver. It’s equally true that the Jaguars weren’t the model of stability these past two years, which in turn hurt the former Colorado Buff’s development. However, he’s in a position in which he will have to earn playing time, fair or not, and he will have to make the most of his chances.
Keep in mind that Shenault was reportedly placed on the trade block earlier this year, so the Jaguars are already looking for alternatives. To his credit, he’s embracing the competition and is doing anything he can to make a positive impression on the new coaching staff. Not long ago, the 2020 second-round pick was getting a look as a returner, meaning he’ll do what’s necessary to stick around.
Shenault was a trendy candidate to have a breakout year in 2021 precisely because of how talented he is. It might be one season later than expected but there’s still a chance he will become a difference-maker for the Jaguars.