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Monday open thread: Is switching Jamal Agnew to receiver a good move?

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Can the Lions’ punt returner find a home on offense?

Detroit Lions v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Jamal Agnew certainly doesn’t lack flair.

There have been a few hiccups during his tenure as a Detroit Lion, but there is no question that he has been a game-changer as a returner. With four touchdowns in 32 career games, Agnew has provided some electric moments for the Lions, and has brought consistency to a previously inconsistent position for the team.

However, his success on special teams is just one aspect of his role on the football field, and Agnew’s struggles at cornerback have prompted a position switch to wide receiver this offseason. After hitting a career-high 117 snaps on defense in 2018 (in just six games), his snap count fell to just 22 in 2019. His performance on defense has been lackluster, and he lost most of his snaps last season as a result.

Going into the 2020 season, his chance of earning a starting role on defense was even slimmer. Darius Slay is the biggest name that departed the team, but the Lions added Desmond Trufant and Jeff Okudah in his stead, and coupled with the returning Amani Oruwariye, Justin Coleman, and Mike Ford, the cornerback room is pretty full.

The Lions have experimented with Agnew on offense before, with Agnew carrying the ball four times and being targeted another four as well, but now the experiment enters phase two. A dynamic returner switching from corner to receiver brings back memories of Devin Hester, and while Agnew would like to follow in his footsteps, we should temper our expectations.

Much like at cornerback, the Lions are pretty full at wide receiver with Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr., Danny Amendola, and Quintez Cephus locks for the roster. Agnew will be battling the likes of Marvin Hall, Chris Lacy, Travis Fulgham, and Geronimo Allison for a spot. Agnew benefits, however, from a lack of consensus at the position, and an impressive preseason could easily earn him an extended role.

While Agnew is undersized for a receiver at just 5-foot-9, 190 pounds, and a hand size of 8.375 inches, his profile is not unheard of. Tyreek Hill of the Kansas City Chiefs has had massive success despite his stature, and given Agnew’s 4.34 speed, it is not unthinkable to see him become a burner. Agnew recorded six interceptions in college, and though the competition the University of San Diego faced was weaker than most colleges, it is still a decent total showcasing some possible ball skills. As a comparison, Jeff Okudah had three interceptions in a similar number of games.

Today’s Question of the Day is:

Is switching Jamal Agnew to receiver a good move?

My answer: I think it’s a good move with both short-term and long-term implications.

It appeared as though Agnew’s time at corner was coming to an end, and the question was whether or you could justify keeping him on the roster solely as a returner. Now with his transition to receiver, it gives Agnew another chance and a pretty good one at that. On the short-term, Agnew will be battling for a fourth or fifth receiver position, and he could win it with a good enough showcase. On a long-term scale, it gives the Lions a project. Can they turn this incredible returner into a serviceable threat on offense? He has the speed that teams love, and with Matthew Stafford’s arm, he could be on the receiving end of a few deep bombs.

Here’s hoping he adjusts to Stafford’s fastballs.

Your turn.

Poll

Is switching Jamal Agnew to receiver a good move?

This poll is closed

  • 92%
    Yes
    (599 votes)
  • 7%
    No
    (46 votes)
645 votes total Vote Now