5 Questions with SI AllBadgers Jake Kocorowski Getting to Know WR Quintez Cephus

Dakota Brecht talks with SI AllBadgers.com's Jake Kocorowski about former Wisconsin WR and Lions draft pick Quintez Cephus
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Former Wisconsin Badgers wide receiver Quintez Cephus is now donning the Honolulu Blue after being selected in the fifth round (No. 166) of the 2020 NFL Draft.

The 6-foot-1, 200-pound wideout hauled in seven touchdowns and 901 receiving yards last year for Wisconsin.

Cephus was a big playmaker for the Badgers in 2019. 

But, with many Lions fans not knowing much about the wideout, we caught up with SI AllBadgers.com's Jake Kocorowski to get some more information.

1.) Cephus was recently compared to Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin. What are your thoughts on that?

Kocorowski: That is extremely high praise for Cephus. The comparison is really interesting, and it will be worth watching to see how he evolves at the next level. The Wisconsin wide receiver showed the ability to come down with contested catches and 50-50 balls consistently. He also became a deep threat for the UW offense in that manner where he received just enough separation to make those plays.

I know we'll talk about this in a bit, but he does not have blazing speed as evident in his NFL Scouting Combine performance (though he drastically improved his time during UW's pro day two weeks later). However, he uses just enough on the field to make plays.

2.) Cephus struggled at the NFL combine in his 40-yard dash, but analysts say he "plays faster" than that 40 time. Your thoughts on his speed?

Kocorowski: Cephus is definitely faster on the field than what he ran in Indy. He improved that 4.73-second 40-yard dash into a 4.56 time during Wisconsin's pro day on March 11. He told me last week that he attributed the improvement to going back to EXOS in Phoenix and setting cues for himself when running the drill. It paid off big time right before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down pro days and in-person player evaluations.

He had enough speed to become Wisconsin's deep threat last year, and I will be watching how that translates against NFL secondaries. However, hearing praise from Ohio State cornerback (and new teammate) Jeffrey Okudah during the combine also shows the respect he had from a rival defensive back.

3.) He has been graded as a player with great "hand and body control." Will Cephus be a deep threat in the NFL?

Kocorowski: I know I mentioned it earlier, but he became Wisconsin's main target on long throws. Quarterback Jack Coan would eventually find him on deep passes and allow Cephus to make plays on the ball. That showed against Minnesota in the regular season finale (five catches for 114 yards and a 47-yard touchdown) and Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship game (7 for 122 yards).

Will that cross over to the pros with more experienced and talented cornerbacks? I think he can, but I also feel he may need to create more separation to do so. Though he does not tear up the turf speed-wise, I could see him finding other ways to do so with his release and getting off the line of scrimmage.

4.) What kind of attitude and work ethic does Cephus bring to the Lions?

Kocorowski: Cephus developed as a player in a Wisconsin program that prided itself on the "Smart, Tough, Dependable" motto that has been a staple of Paul Chryst's tenure in Madison after coming to UW as part of the class of 2016.

After being found not guilty of two counts of sexual assault last August, Wisconsin head Paul Chryst was asked if Cephus would be welcomed back to the program. Chryst said if it was best for Cephus, he and the team "absolutely would." He referred to the wide receiver as "one of those connectors that unified different groups, and I think had a lot of respect.

In that linked article I wrote when I was at Rivals, you will see other Badgers discuss what type of teammate he was as well.

He rejoined the team in mid-August and eventually worked his way back into playing shape quickly thereafter. He was even in the two-deep to start the season and was a huge contributor in 2019.

5.) How will Cephus' skill set translate to the next level?

Kocorowski: That's the big question, but one I think Cephus will answer. I do not know if he will consistently show the threat to stretch opposing defenses like he did at Wisconsin, but I think he can grow into a major contributor for the Lions' offense in making tough catches at the very least. SI's Kevin Hanson believed he would be a possession-like receiver.

Like most rookies, it could take him a year to grow into whatever role the Lions want him to be in, but he should be able to make strides and become another target for offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and quarterback Matthew Stafford.

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