Rookie Roles: Detroit Lions fifth-round pick Quintez Cephus

Quintez Cephus, Wisconsin Badgers (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
Quintez Cephus, Wisconsin Badgers (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

We look at how the Detroit Lions may utilize their fifth-round pick, Quintez Cephus.

With the 166th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the asset general manager Bob Quinn wrestled away from the Philadelphia Eagles for cornerback Darius Slay, the Detroit Lions selected wide receiver out of Wisconsin, Quintez Cephus.

Cephus is a possession-type receiver with decent size at 6-foot-1, 202lbs, but lacks high-end NFL speed whether you look at his combine (4.73) or his pro-day 40 (4.56) 40-time … you can bet the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.

So while his 40-time was literally the worst in the class for wide receivers, his vertical was 10th best at 38.5 inches. The vertical supports the explosion you see off the line of scrimmage on tape, and the obvious, being able to high-point jump balls.

Detroit Lions’ role based on skill set?

If I’m making the call I’m seeing what Cephus can do as a slot receiver. But not like the type of slot receiver you’ve seen recently in Detroit with Danny Amendola or Golden Tate.

The slot has expanded in recent years in the NFL with the popularity of using three or more wide receivers. It used to be slot receivers who were almost always smaller stature receivers who were just slant route robots and depended on yards after the catch for production. Offensive coordinators have now caught on to other types of receivers who may find the slot advantageous.

You have your Amendola types who are excellent route-runners and take advantage of less agile linebackers, Tyler Lockett types who are deep-threat burners, and your Anquan Boldin types who are bigger receivers that are used inside to create mismatches with smaller slot defenders.

I think Cephus’ best fit in the NFL is in the Anquan Boldin-Esque ‘big-slot’ role. Here he would be able to use his quickness, separation, and knack for finding the hole in zone coverage against either slower linebackers or smaller slot corners.

Role competition?

Last season the Lions did not use any of their bigger receivers in the slot more often than not. Hell, even Marvin Hall played more on the outside than in the slot. So there’s really no returning competition for a ‘big-slot’ receiver.

But at 6-foot-3, 202ilbs, newly signed Geronimo Allison is a bigger receiver who played primarily inside in the slot with the Green Bay Packers last season, but played out wide slightly more in his previous three seasons.

Position competition?

As far as competition for a roster spot, we’re starting to get a little high in the draft to be worried about these rookies not making the initial 53-man roster unless they’re a total bust …  but there is still depth chart competition.

I see Cephus primarily used as a situational backup slot wide receiver with some outside work to a lesser extent. In my opinion that puts him in competition with all the backup skill position players.

Next. The Detroit Lions 2010s All-Decade team on offense. dark

I actually think the Lions keep five running backs this season, leaving some tough decisions and camp battles at wide receiver and tight end, but I think Cephus comes out of the scrum a couple of guys ahead of the last man in.