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4 Keys to Success for WR Quintez Cephus in 2021

Read more on the four keys to success for Detroit Lions second-year wide receiver Quintez Cephus in 2021.

Wide receiver Quintez Cephus looked and played like a rookie in 2020, and he also looked and played like a fifth-round draft choice. 

There is a reason Cephus lasted until the 166th overall pick. That is not to say he can't make it in the NFL, as a good number of receivers have gone in the fifth round - - or lower - - and have made it. 

Some of the modern-day receivers who come to mind that made it are Joe Horn (fifth round), T.J. Houshmandzadeh (seventh round), Marques Colston (seventh round) and of course, who could forget Rod Smith and Wes Welker, who both went undrafted. 

Will Cephus be the next name on the list of guys who were taken in a lower round and turned in a solid career? It is way too early to tell, and a lot of work needs to be done first. 

When I did an evaluation on Cephus in December of last year, he flashed some ability here and there, but overall, he looked downright awkward as a receiver. I normally never refer to a receiver as looking "awkward," but I have and continue to have a very hard time warming up to Cephus. 

The slant route has been his signature and best route, but outside of that, I found myself using words such as "raw" and "sloppy," to illustrate with words what Cephus was showing on film.

In summation, I wrote, "He has looked like a low-round project this season in every sense of the word." 

Cephus did not look nearly as good in the NFL, as he did in college. In fact, he looked like a fish out of water, as I sat through all 38 of his plays from last season. 

Heading into his second season, Cephus is surrounded by change. He has a new quarterback to get into sync with and a whole new coaching staff to adapt to. 

There are also four changes he needs to make, which happen to also be the four keys to his success in 2021. 


1.) Cephus needs to drive into his routes harder, coming off the line of scrimmage. 

He needs to be more aggressive coming off the snap by taking charge of the route and setting the tone with opposing corners. 

In 2020, he spent way too much time trying to out-finesse corners, as opposed to dictating to them where he and the ball were going to end up. 

2.) Cephus needs substantial work on his route-running. 

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There were way too many times where his routes looked very unpolished. It did not look crisp. 

There were too many times to count when it did not look like he and Matthew Stafford were remotely on the same page. I am putting that one on the rookie - - not the veteran. 

That also happened several times on deeper routes, where Cephus did not end up where the ball dropped. 

3.) Cephus needs to become more intentional about picking up yards after the catch (a.k.a. YAC). 

In 2020, he seemed content with just making the catch. Detroit needs him to fight more for yardage after the catch and to stay on his feet more after the catch, instead of jumping and sliding when he does not need to. 

4.) Cephus needs to develop more dependable and reliable hands. 

In football, there is something referred to as "the JUGS machine", which is a machine where someone on one end feeds footballs into the machine and it fires them out to an intended target. Cephus needs to spend time - - and a lot of time -- standing in front of the JUGS machine or finding someone who can throw him a lot of practice footballs. 

In 2020, Cephus recorded 20 receptions, but was targeted nearly twice as much (35 times). That is just not good enough. He does not have natural hands. 

What will become of Cephus in 2021? 

First, he needs to make the team. That is not a given. Cephus was drafted by the last regime, and if it comes down to a coin flip between him and a receiver acquired by the Brad Holmes-Dan Campbell regime, I would not want to be Cephus. 

To think he is going to step right in where WR Kenny Golladay left off is like the field-goal kicker coming in to attempt a 65-yard, game-winning kick. It's a longshot, but it is possible.

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