Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images
The Wisconsin receiver has exciting potential, but significant risk
The 2020 NFL Draft promises to have a deep wide receiver class. That may bode well for a team like the New York Giants who are in need of wide receivers. The possibility exists that the simple glut of talent will allow teams to find good players later in the draft than they ordinarily would. Of course, its also possible that we will see an incredible run on receivers early in the draft.
But while that might bode well for teams, the number of potentially good receivers in this class does not bode well for any player with a red flag. Wisconsin receiver Quintez Cephus has a serious red flag after being arrested in 2018, and he will have to do what he can to convince teams that his character is not a concern they can use to talk themselves out of drafting him.
Because on the field, he has the goods.
Prospect: Quintez Cephus (WR, Wisconsin)
Games Watched: vs. Central Michigan (2019), vs. Michigan State (2019), vs. Iowa (2019), vs Ohio State (2019), vs Oregon (2019)
Red Flags: Right leg (2017), Arrest (2018)
Height: 6010* (6-feet, 1 inche)
Weight: 207 pounds
(Note: School measurements. We will get official measurements at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine)
Games Played (starts): 37 (18 starts)
Receptions (ypc): 93 (16.1 yards per catch)
Receptions: 59 (15.3 yards per catch)
Best: Quickness, versatility, release, burst, ball skills
Worst: Long speed, lower body flexibility
Projection: A starting receiver in a West Coast based system.
Wisconsin’s Quintez Cephus is a good-sized, versatile, quick, and physical receiver prospect. Cephus has the versatility to line up in a variety of positions, playing X, slot, and Flanker in Wisconsin’s offense. He shows a good release off the line of scrimmage, with little wasted motion and the ability to beat man coverage early in his route. Cephus runs a fairly large route tree in Wisconsin’s offense, running a variety of vertical, come-back, and crossing routes to attack the short, intermediate, and deep apart of the field. He has very good quickness of the snap and out of his breaks, making it difficult for most defensive backs to keep up with him and allowing him to create separation with his routes. Cephus has good hands and ball skills, adjusting well to the ball in flight, positioning his body to box out defenders, and extending to catch the ball outside of his frame. Cephus is a capable runner after the catch, with a good burst to exploit any separation at the catch point and good play strength to run through poor tackle attempts.
Cephus was frequently used as a blocker in Wisconsin’s run-heavy offense. He is aggressive in engaging defenders and shows good play strength in sustaining his blocks.
Cephus’ long speed is a question on tape. He is able to use his quickness and explosiveness to maintain separation from defenders while running in the open field, but he doesn’t appear to have true “burner” long speed. He also shows some lower-body stiffness when forced to cut at speed, needing to chop his feet to slow down, rather than being able to sink his hips and carry his momentum. Cephus was arrested in 2018 and charged with second and third degree sexual assault, though he was acquitted of all charges following a trial.
Overall Grade: 6.5 (B) – A prospect who has exciting flashes in college with a good blend of size and athletic traits. High ceiling but a bust potential due to character concerns.
(Note: We are changing the grading scale to this one, used by Lance Zierlein and Daniel Jeremiah at the NFL Network, as well as by several NFL teams. Over time I’ll be going back and translating grades on old profiles into the new scale. Evaluations won’t change, just numbers.)
Quintez Cephus projects as a potential starter in an offense which is based on West Coast principles. He has a good release, quickness, and explosiveness to be dangerous on the route concepts favored by quick, timing based offenses. He also has the ability to be a big play threat when the opportunity arises, either through vertical routes or catch-and-run situations. His stats aren’t particularly impressive, but he could blossom with NFL coaching in an NFL offense. Wisconsin’s run-heavy offense didn’t afford him as many opportunities as a more pass-based offense might.
Cephus has good thickness through his frame, but doesn’t have the raw blend of height, weight, and speed favored by vertical offenses. Combine testing will be important for Cephus, as his long speed might be a concern for some teams.
But more than questions about his athleticism, Cephus’ draft stock will be tied to questions regarding his character. Cephus was arrested for sexually assaulting two women in 2018, leading to his dismissal from Wisconsin’s football team and expulsion from the university. He was reinstated after he was acquitted by a jury, but teams will do their own digging as a part of their scouting process. Teams will have to decide their comfort level with what they find, and that will likely determine his draft stock.