The Detroit Lions have a diverse weapon in cornerback Jamal Agnew who can play offense as well as his natural position of defense, but that could be changing moving forward.
According to a new piece by Peter King of NBC Sports, Agnew has switched positions, moving to wide receiver exclusively. In King’s piece where he looks in-depth at the Detroit wideouts, Agnew is mentioned as a “converted DB” which leads to the notion that he is moving from the defensive side ahead of the 2020 season.
Agnew could certainly make the switch to another side of the ball this offseason to being a special teams weapon as well as a player used exclusively on the offensive side of the ball. Detroit is now loaded at cornerback after a busy offseason at the spot, so now would be the time to transition a player away from that role given there is better depth at the position than in the past.
That’s just what the Lions appear to want to do with this move.
Jamal Agnew Made History With Special Teams
Agnew returned a punt for a score against the Denver Broncos in December and made a little history in the process. With the touchdown, Agnew put himself amongst royalty in league history in terms of special teams players. Agnew’s 4 career special teams touchdowns, with one coming via a punt return and the others via kickoff, helped him join an exclusive club.
Since 1995, only 5 @NFL players have logged 3 punt return TDs & 1 kickoff return TDs within their first 3 career seasons:
— Detroit Lions PR (@LionsPR) December 22, 2019
As the franchise pointed out, since 1995, nobody has been better early in their career at making electric plays than Agnew. He joins the likes of Tyreek Hill, Devin Hester, Eddie Drummond and Steve Smith as the only ones to accomplish this unique feat on a football field. Those players are known as some of the greats of the game in terms of making big plays in the return game.
Special teams is the way Agnew is making his mark in the league, and he’s doing quite a good job of it early in his career. The Lions have realized Agnew can be a weapon on the offensive side.
Jamal Agnew Lions Lone Pro Bowl Vote Getter
After Pro Bowl voting was opened up late last season, Agnew was the only Lions player to be at top 10 in voting for his position. Agnew is getting respect via votes for his work at returner, but sadly he was the only one who saw this type of love.
Here’s a look at what Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press wrote about where the Lions stood at the time in terms of voting:
“Just one Lions players ranks among the top 10 Pro Bowl vote-getters by position: Return man Jamal Agnew, who’s fifth among returners overall and fourth in the NFC.
Agnew was a Pro Bowl alternate as a rookie in 2017, when he returned two punts for touchdowns and earned All-Pro status, but he had a disappointing 2018 season, when he battled a knee injury for much of the season.
This year, Agnew has been up and down. He returned a kick for a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles, but is averaging just 5.9 yards per punt return and is currently sidelined with an ankle injury.”
Agnew’s injury might be something which prevents him from squaring away the honor this season, but for now, he is the only Detroit player that seems to be in the early mix for Pro Bowl love. That is mildly shocking given the other players the Lions have on their roster that have done damage so far this season.
Jamal Agnew’s Stats With Lions
The Lions uncovered a potential hidden gem when they found Agnew in the fifth round of the draft in 2017. He quickly burst on the scene as an electric returner and in his career has managed to rack up 916 return yards in his career with three touchdowns. Two of those scores came in his rookie season, when he was named an All-Pro special teams player. In 2019, the Lions managed to get a 100 yard kickoff return for a score from Agnew to help in defeating the Philadelphia Eagles on the road.
Agnew’s stats as a cornerback are much more limited given he hasn’t played much there through the years. In his career in the NFL, he has only defended a pass and has 17 tackles to his credit. Obviously, the Lions prefer to save Agnew for the special teams given his electrifying moves.
It’s obvious that switching positions could be a good way for Agnew.