Detroit Lions: Jason Huntley selection more luxury than necessity

Jason Huntley, New Mexico State Aggies (Photo by Todd Bennett/Getty Images)
Jason Huntley, New Mexico State Aggies (Photo by Todd Bennett/Getty Images) /

Jason Huntley’s selection was more of a luxury than a necessity for the Detroit Lions

With one of two fifth-round picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions selected New Mexico State running back Jason Huntley. His selection wouldn’t have been possible without a draft day trade with the Las Vegas Raiders that exchanged the Lions’ fourth round pick (109th overall) in return for a fourth (121) and fifth-rounder (172).

The selection of Huntley was puzzling since Detroit has already selected Georgia’s D’Andre Swift in the second round, arguably the best running back in this year’s class. That’s also not mentioning the current running backs on the Lions’ roster in Kerryon Johnson, Bo Scarbrough, Ty Johnson, and Wes Hills.

I simply didn’t see a fit for Huntley on the roster with the running back depth that the Lions already have. Although once I learned that he was mainly brought in as a special teams player, it started to make a little more sense. But still, didn’t seem as the right pick for a variety of reasons.

First off, the Lions have cornerback Jamal Agnew who is a solid special teams player. Last season, Agnew returned 17 kicks for 454 yards for an average of 26.7 yards a return. He also returned a kick against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 3 for a touchdown. For punt returns, Agnew returned 19 punts for 175 yards averaging 9.2 yards a return including one return that he took for a touchdown.

There have been rumors circling around that a position change for Agnew to wide receiver may be coming for the 2020 season. But with head coach Matt Patricia and the Lions in a make or break year, they don’t have the luxury of being able to experiment things like positional changes.

Instead, Detroit needs to focus on putting the best roster out there to win games. Also, the Lions have immense depth at the wide receiver position and there’s no need to add to it.

Did the Detroit Lions really need another running back in the draft?

Instead of selecting Huntley to add to the Lions’ running back depth chart, which has its own set of question marks, they could have used that draft pick to address other needs. Perhaps the defensive line or another defensive position as the Lions had one of the worst defenses in the league last season. On the defensive line alone, a total of 15 defensive linemen were taken after Huntley in the draft.

Regardless, Lions’ fans should still be happy to have Huntley. Many coaches and scouts rave about his speed and see him as a third-down back.

Huntley is the only running back in the 2020 draft that exceeded 1,000 receiving yards at the college level. In four years at New Mexico State, he rushed for 2,197 yards 0n 374 attempts for an average of 5.9 yards a carry. In the air, he totaled 1,119 receiving yards and averaged 8.4 yards a catch.

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At the NFL Scouting Combine, Jason Huntley ran the 40-yard dash in 4.37 seconds and had a broad jump of 131 inches. But it remains to be seen how the Detroit Lions will use Huntley’s speed and explosiveness with so many mouths to feed at the running back position already.