Detroit Lions: Carving out roles for Quintez Cephus and Justin Huntley

(Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

As of yesterday, the Detroit Lions have officially signed a pair of late-round 2020 NFL Draft picks, but they will both need to earn their roles if they hope to stick.

The Detroit Lions officially but pen-to-paper signing receiver Quintez Cephus along with running back Jason Huntley to their rookie contract.

Cephus played his college football as a member of the run-heavy Wisconsin Badgers, where he collected 93 receptions totaling 1,496 yards and 13 touchdowns.  Last season Cephus worked as the Badgers feature receiver corralling 59 passes totaling 901 yards and seven touchdowns.

With the Badgers leaning on the power run game, utilizing Jonathan Taylor, the targets in the passing game for Cephus and any other Wisconsin receiver for that matter were few and far between.

More from Detroit Jock City

It’s a robust Detroit Lions wide receiver group entering the 2020 season, leaving young Cephus’ role to question.  Where will the youngster fit in?

When asked which player was the most difficult to cover in college, Lions first-round pick Jeff Okudah promptly answered, Cephus.  That is saying something.

I believe the 6-foot-1 receiver may be best-suited working out of the slot at the NFL level.  Cephus doesn’t possess game-changing speed; he ran an underwhelming 4.73 40-yard dash at the NFL combine.  One thing that stands out about Cephus when watching his film is his ability to run tight, crisp routes.  He’s unquestionably an above-average route runner.

For an NFL receiver working out of the slot, it’s imperative to be more quick than fast.  Cephus will have the ability to work across the middle using his quickness and route-running abilities to shake defenders.  Cephus should have the ability to back up the likes of Danny Amendola this season, and what a perfect veteran mentor to shadow.

Cephus lands on the Detroit Lions depth chart behind Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, and Danny Amendola.  Cephus will be competing with Geronimo Allison, who is a tremendous run blocking receiver, along with Marvin Hall, Travis Fulgham, and Jamal Agnew.  Cephus may find himself starting on the practice squad to start the 2020 season, similar to Fulgham last year.

The Detroit Lions also signed rookie running back Jason Huntley to his rookie deal.  Huntley played college football with the New Mexico State Aggies.

Huntley is lightning in a bottle.  The 5-foot-8 return specialist will join a bolstered Detroit Lions running back room headlined by rookie running back D’Andre Swift.  Huntley will need to carve out a role for himself in the return game and quite possibly prove to be more valuable than Agnew working as a gadget player on offense to earn himself a spot on the 2020 roster.

Agnew is a great returner but lacks in other areas.  He wasn’t able to maintain a depth position in Detroit’s secondary, but the Lions are hoping to use him on the offensive side of the ball.  Agnew has a chance to remain on the Detroit roster if he proves to be effective on offense.

Huntley proved to be an above-average pass-catching threat out of the backfield during his college days, collecting 126 receptions totaling 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns. Huntley will be buried on Detroit’s depth chart behind Swift, Kerryon Johnson, Ty Johnson, and Bo Scarbrough.

It will be interesting to see if the Lions try to use Huntley’s receiving skills by using him out of the slot.  By having Huntley working from the slot, it will provide the Lions with plenty of options.  Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell can utilize Huntley’s instantaneous speed in space with jet sweeps and using him in motion just to distract the opposing defenses.

Next. 3 free agents to sign considering limited offseason. dark

If Huntley isn’t able to beat out Agnew, Scarbrough, or Ty Johnson for a final roster spot, he may find himself on Detroit’s practice squad to start the 2020 season.