The DLP Writing Staff Takes A Look At Who Their Favorite Detroit Lions’ Camp Standout Was.
When looking for a Lions’ camp standout, it is hard to look past first-round pick Jarrad Davis. The Lions filled their biggest weakness from the previous season by adding Davis to the defense. The Lions line-backing corps were picked apart all year in coverage and broke down against the run as the year went on. His ability to step in and immediately improve in these areas was evident at training camp.
During the mock game during the Lions “family day” on Saturday, there was not much hitting as the game was mainly two hand touch with the exception of an overzealous hit here and there. Without being able to fully attack in the running game it may be hard to get a read for where Davis is at versus the run. However, he was very good at anticipating the direction of the play. He is still learning to diagnose the game at an NFL level and was behind on a couple of runs. But Davis was consistently around the ball and looked good fighting through traffic.
However, where Jarrad Davis really looked great was in coverage. He was sticking with tight ends Darren Fells and Michael Roberts well throughout camp. His instincts look good as well. Several times you could see Davis anticipate the route and break on the ball before the receiver to either break up the pass or force the quarterback to look elsewhere.
Davis’s athletic ability in space allows him to cover running backs well too. There was one particular play where Davis was matched up against Asiata in man coverage. Asiata runs a three yard out and Davis breaks on the ball two steps before Asiata makes his break towards the side-line. Davis steps in front of Asiata for an interception as quarterback Jake Rudock begins to throw towards Asiata. Once Rudock sees he tucks the ball back in and throws the ball across the field for an incomplete pass that could have been intercepted. These are the types of plays you hope to see Davis continue to make as the year goes on and help the Lions defense prevent opponents from hurting them in the underneath passing game like the previous season.
Nathan Cheatham – @NateCheat
Of all the nicknames this guy is getting, the most apt I found was “Baby-Tron”. At 6’4” Golladay dwarfs other receivers on the Detroit Lions, like Jace Billingsley.
— Nathan (@natecheat) August 7, 2017
Golladay has some great hands too. I agree with a remark by Erik Schlitt that “with other receivers its as if the ball hits them in the hands and then they have to make the catch, with Golladay the ball just floats into his grip.”
On top of his great ball handling skills, the Lions’ camp standout has some speed, using his long legs to get down the field quickly. If he could combine the speed with using his body more, we will have the making of a number 1 receiver. This guy might have been drafted to be our number three wide receiver but he has many of the qualities of Calvin “Megatron” Johnson, and hopefully he can live up to that potential.
Fells came into Detroit as a small signing. A replacement for Brandon Pettigrew, someone who could block and catch, nothing flashy. With Eric Ebron out of practice at camp, Fells was thrown into the starting role and boy did he shine. His blocking was impressive, but his catching skills were what blew me away. Last season, the Lions’ camp standout only had 14 catches for 154 yards and one touchdown, showing that his main job isn’t to catch. In Detroit, he will be asked to block mainly, but when asked to receive, Fells is better than expected.
At 6’7, his catch radius is impressive, and weighing close to 300 pounds, Fells is athletic. Fells won’t just be “the blocking tight end” in Detroit this season. The way he was working the field, he could be a dangerous threat on the field that nobody will expect. With rookie Michael Roberts coming in as a big red zone target, many people forgot about Fells. Nobody expected him to be this impressive at receiving, not that he is a top 10 TE or anything, just that his skills are underrated and teams will soon learn quickly that Ebron and Roberts aren’t the only tight ends you have to worry about.
Over my time at training camp this past week, there were a lot of players that played well that I think most people expected to play well. Stafford, Slay, Wagner all had good training camps, and I think everyone expected that. Kenny Golladay and Jarrad Davis showed why the Lions made them early round picks in the NFL draft. A couple of players who showed promise last year showed improvement this year.
The Lions’ camp standout for me was Jamal Agnew. He was a late round pick for the Detroit Lions at corner back, and expectations were fairly low for a guy that came from a small school and would likely need time to develop his coverage skills. Jamal Agnew proved that he was far ahead of expectations in both coverage and the return game.
Agnew impresses yet again pic.twitter.com/gyZcwl5hfh
— Sean Lanigan (@Lanny1925) August 5, 2017
In the return game Agnew looked electric, showing off his top end speed as well as his explosive lateral movement. He had the look of a game-breaker in the return game. This is something that the Lions are desperately looking for after getting a taste of it from Andre Roberts on punt returns last year.
He needs to work on tracking the ball and getting under it quicker. Almost every return that Jamal Agnew had resulted in a lot of running around to finally get under the ball and field it. This isn’t something that you want to see out of a guy that you hope will be getting the return duties before week one of the regular season.
Jamal Agnew is really good.
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) August 1, 2017
In coverage, Agnew has looked sticky. The Lions’ camp standout had no trouble running with receivers at the NFL level over the course of training camp, and made some nice plays in coverage.
He needs to work on reading quarterbacks and receivers, reacting quicker and pretty much everything that young corner backs need to work on. His athleticism helps mask some of his deficiencies right now, but improving in the technical and mental parts of the position will help him improve dramatically.
Jamal Agnew is a player to keep an eye on throughout preseason. You will probably hear his name called a lot. He is an exciting player that has shown well so far and looks to bring far more value than his late round selection would indicate. This is a Lions’ camp standout to keep a close eye on.