A word popped into my mind when I turned on the film to review Lions rookie wide receiver Quintez Cephus.
That is the one word that went through my mind time and time again when I watched the film of his performances this season.
He came out of Wisconsin as a junior, and he looks like a raw, late-round pick in every way imaginable.
When evaluating a player, I try to see as much of the big picture as possible, in order to get as much of a feel for the player as I can.
I went back, and reviewed the 29 plays he's been directly involved in so far this season in Detroit's offense.
He does not remotely look like the same receiver from his days at Wisconsin.
He looked natural in college, but now looks like a raw rookie playing in his first season in the NFL.
While I would never bet against him after watching his compelling and touching life story, I wonder how long he can hang on a roster in Detroit or in the NFL for that matter, without dramatic and quick improvements to his game.
It was highly unusual to see the discrepancy in how well he performed in college, compared to his current play on the field.
He is struggling to do everything he did almost effortlessly in college.
While the announcers this season have put the onus for missed opportunities on Stafford, I am not so sure about that.
#87 WR Quintez Cephus - 6-foot-1, 207 pounds
Grade: D (below average)
2020 film: 9/13 vs. CHI, 9/20 vs. GB, 9/27 vs. AZ, 11/8 vs. MIN, 11/15 vs. WSH, 11/22 vs. CAR, 11/26 vs. HOU, 12/6 vs. CHI and 12/13 vs. GB.
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Compactly built, tough-and-raw-looking possession receiver, with a very average-looking playing speed. Thicker, well-defined body tone. He does not drive hard into his routes. Route-running looked sloppy and raw. Did not always seem to get to the spot where the QB expected him to be. Mostly ran short-to-intermediate-level routes. Route-running looked flat-out awkward at times. Tends to try to out-finesse corners, which has not worked at the pro level. Instead, he got re-routed or impeded by corners way too easily.
Excels at running inside slant routes, but he has average hip flexibility. So, his routes do not look sharp or crisp. However, if he has a forte, it is the inside slant. He showed the ability to pluck the ball out of the air with his hands, but he only has average confidence in his hands, because at times, he will resort to jumping or going to the ground to attempt to make a grab, even when he does not need to. Flare for the dramatic. Does not have dependable hands. Does not look like a dependable catcher. Not a yards-after-the-catch guy, either. Tends to be satisfied making the grab, if he can, and that is pretty much it.
He showcased the ability to sneak behind the defense for his first career touchdown against CHI in Week 13, but he also has shown the ability to have difficulty tracking deeper passes. Trouble adjusting to the ball, too, at every route level.
Has filled in for starter Kenny Golladay when Golladay's been injured, but he has looked like a low-round project this season, in every sense of the word. He has a long way to go before he becomes a smooth-looking and dependable possession receiver.
I do not know exactly what happened to Cephus from his standout junior season, to what I evaluated so far this season. But, something clearly happened.
I am left with both question marks and answers.
He is one of the more perplexing players I have ever scouted. He has obvious talent, but he has not looked the part thus far in his first year in the league.
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