2020 NFL Draft | Prospect film session with Wisconsin wide receiver Quintez Cephus


I sat down with another very good receiver prospect in this loaded class in Quintez Cephus out of Wisconsin. He is a talented receiver who had a lot of production in college despite playing in a run first offense.

To start today’s interview, I saw that both Jeffrey Okudah and Damon Arnette mentioned Cephus as the top receiver they played in college and spoke very high of his game. I asked Cephus what it meant to him to be talked about so highly by two of the top corners in college football:

“Oh, it’s definitely great coming from those guys. Going into those games against those guys, I knew it was going to be a great opportunity for me to play against two great corners. Every rep and every time I lined up, it was gonna be a fight that was won by inches. I had to bring it every play in that game and I looked at it as an opportunity for me to put my name out there. I wanted to go out there and be aggressive and not shy away from the competition and show the world that I belong.”

Cephus definitely did show he belonged as he hauled in 10 catches for 179 yards in those two matchups. I asked him if his production in those games was a result of game plan or just the flow of the game and how it played out:

“I think when you face teams like that where you know exactly where the defense is gonna be — it’s pretty much gonna be man to man — that the quarterback likes to go to his go-to guys. He knows that I’m going to be there for him and it comes to him trusting me to be where I need to be when he needs me. They have guys up front who get to the quarterback really fast, so I think it’s just that trust factor between me and my quarterback and me being that reliable guy for him all game.”

Clip 1

A strength in Cephus’ game is how he can beat press off the line with relative ease. Here, he makes quick work of Arnette for the catch. I asked him about his overall approach to beating press and about what he does here to win:

“One thing I always think about is getting on the edge and not taking on a guy right down the middle. The goal is getting on a half and pulling yourself through and maintaining a line and knowing that everything is going to start from that vertical stem. You don’t want to get pushed too much inside or get widened out to the boundary. Right here, I’m just thinking about moving my guy one way or another, so I set him up inside so I could get outside. These guys are big and strong and this was one of the first balls down the field that I got a chance to catch. I was just kind of setting him up. I know we had a lot of inside breaking routes in this game plan and I wanted to set him up inside, so I could get outside then pull myself through when I got to the half.”

A big part of beating press is not getting pinched to the sideline and giving space for your quarterback. I asked Cephus how important it is not to get pinched:

“You wanna give your quarterback as much space as you can. If you get pushed too much to the sideline, it minimizes the quarterback’s margin for error in my opinion. You want to give him as much room to throw the ball to the sideline as you can so you always want to be tight on your release and be strong to hold your line.”

Clip 2

This wheel route from the slot was a real fun design that got Cephus wide open for the big gain. I asked him what this play design was and why it was called against Ohio State:

“This was actually not one of our staples in our offense but we knew that this was the first play of the game and we wanted to take a shot out of the gates and make a statement. We knew it was going to be man to man or it was gonna be cover three and they got to cover three here but it was essentially an inside fade to me. If it turned into a man situation then it would have been a fade with a one on one matchup to the outside. It was cover three though, so we pushed the No. 1 guy through the cornerback and had him stay tight so he couldn’t fall off on my route and then we had the number two run to the flats to hold the curl flat defender then I ran up the seem where nobody was. We kind of had me if it was cover one or three and then we had the big post if it was cover four. It was just a game plan decision and it worked out.”

I then asked Cephus if this game plan decision was made with him in mind as the inside fade particularly or if he just happened to be lined up there:

“Yeah, they just trust me and I work for it. They know I have to be big in those type of games and I know I have to big in those games. Coach learned to come to me and he trusted me to make the plays when the ball comes my way. Jack (Coan) actually told me before the game that he was going to me no matter what on this play, so I knew the ball was coming and I wanted to just make a play.”

Clip 3

I circled back to a question about his press releases as he beats this slot defender to the inside here on a different type of mover. I asked Cephus how important it is to vary your press releases as a receiver against press man coverage:

“On this play, I was in the slot and you kind of have more room to work with in the slot and you can really play around with your release when you have that much space. I danced a little bit just to get him going and see if he would bite and, if he would have, I would have just took him the other way and took him up the field. He kind of just sat there though, so I slipped inside. I got vertical and slipped him off on the slant. It is very important to mix up your releases and give defenders different looks.”

Cephus typically lines up outside due to his release game but here he is in the slot. I asked him what the advantage is playing in the slot versus playing on the outside:

“The big thing is just having the ability to work different releases and having a lot of space to work with in that area of the field. That’s really all you want as a receiver and that’s the only thing I can think of. You could be on the ball but we typically set our slots off the ball to give them a couple more yards of space to work.”

Clip 4

I love this route by Cephus because he is so quick in his break. I asked him how his natural quickness and lateral ability help him as a receiver:

“Ah shoot, I mean guys across from you are always trying to shoot their hands or whatever and it’s almost surprising the things you have to react to on the field sometimes. Any time you can think on your toes and be quick and use your hands and find your feet, it helps you a lot. You have somewhere to be and a guy trying to stop you so having quickness definitely helps.”

Receivers in the NFL are put into dangerous situations sometimes going over the middle of the field. I asked Cephus about his mindset going into that high-danger area over the middle to make catches:

“I don’t really think too much about it. It’s just you are going to have to take advantage of every area on the field and, for a receiver, I think being able to run those inside crossers and slants gives you a chance to really run away from guys. You have to be able to use that middle of the field and somebody has to be that guy to have what it takes to run in there. I was blessed with the physical abilities and I’m not afraid of anything, so I just do what I need to do. My job is to catch the ball and I’ll do that anywhere.”

Clip 5

Cephus makes a great play on the ball here as he adjusts in the air to get the huge reception. I asked him how important it is for receivers to adjust in the air like this to be successful:

“For me, it’s just a natural ability. I don’t know if that’s something you can work at but I’ve always just been about the ball and that is the most important thing on the field to do whatever you can to go get the ball. Whether you jump early like I did in this clip or it falls into your lap, it’s just about the mindset of going to get the ball. That fortunately shows my ability to twist and turn my body in different ways to make plays in the air.”

My final question for Cephus today was my typical one, as I asked him what my team would be getting if they spent a draft pick on him:

“I know you are getting a leader. You are getting somebody that is coming from an environment that didn’t really offer a lot but made something out of nothing. I’ve really seen some crazy stuff in my life but I’ve overcome a lot. You’re getting a guy that can face adversity and fight through anything to be successful. On the field, I’ll be an energetic guy and be a reliable player for whoever my quarterback is. I can get those 50/50 balls and be everything a team needsr.”