Detroit Lions: Where does Jamal Agnew fit into the offense?

July 15th, 2020 in Lions By Bob Heyrman

Entering the 2020 NFL season, the Detroit Lions decided to move star kick-returner, Jamal Agnew from being a depth corner on defense to a depth receiver on offense.

It’s not a smooth transition to make from playing defense to offense at the professional level. Still, Jamal Agnew has provided the Detroit Lions with many dynamic plays in the return game, perhaps head coach Matt Patricia and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell are just trying to get the football into the hands of their dynamic playmaker.

There is no guarantee that Agnew makes the roster entering 2020.  Some consider Agnew’s kick-return ability to be enough to warrant a roster spot. But don’t forget, the Lions drafted running back Justin Huntley out of New Mexico State, and he’s also a kick return specialist, plus he’s a fantastic pass-catching running back.

Agnew will need to fend off Huntley to solidify himself on this Detroit Lions roster; he can do that by impressing the coaching staff with a strong training camp and preseason by chipping in with some electric plays on the offensive side of things.

How will Jamal Agnew’s skill-set compliment the other rostered receivers?

The Detroit Lions are loaded with receiver talent entering the 2020-21 season.  Detroit will deploy one of the most potent receiving groups in the entire league, led by Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones.  The complimentary pass-catchers add plenty of depth to the roster that includes veteran Danny Amendola, who works primarily out of the slot.

Marvin Hall emerged last season as one of the best ‘downfield’ receiving threats throughout the NFL, averaging a whopping 29 yards per reception during the 2019 season.  It’s unfortunate that Hall only made nine catches, but amassing 261 yards on those nine catches should garner our attention.  The Detroit Lions should use Hall in a variety of ways moving forward, not just as a one-trick pony, deep threat.  Why not try and get the speedster the football at the intermediate level and see if he can utilize that speed after the catch?

The Detroit Lions also signed free agent Geronimo Allison formally of the Green Bay Packers.  He’s an excellent experienced fifth receiver to keep on a roster.  He’s capable of performing in a depth role, and he’s an elite blocking receiver.  The Green Bay Packers used him last season almost exclusively as a blocker.  Allison corralled 34 receptions on 54 targets totaling 287 yards and two touchdowns.  Allison played a career-high 174 snaps, and according to Pro Football Focus (PFF), he earned himself an elite 78.9 run-blocking grade.

Along with trying to fend off Huntley, Agnew will need to prove he’s worth a roster spot over both Travis Fulgham and rookie Quintez Cephus.

I believe Agnew’s experience as a defensive back will help him master an NFL route tree, but with how deep this depth chart is at this position, there is no guaranteed Agnew can impress the coaching staff quickly enough.  His ability to play corner if injuries occur, along with being a gadget player on offense, to go with his elite return skills make for an overall valuable player, but enough to maintain a roster spot?  Only time will tell.