Following a missed full season in 2018, junior wide receiver Quintez Cephus showed up in a major way in 2019, resulting in Cephus’ decision to enter the 2020 NFL Draft in April.
Like fellow junior Jonathan Taylor, Cephus exploded out of nowhere after emerging from high school as a three-star recruit, joining the Badgers in 2016.
Cephus’ career took off from there as he finished with 30 catches for 501 yards in 2017, both of which were good enough for second on the team behind tight end Troy Fumagalli. Cephus led the team in receiving touchdowns with six across 10 games.
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After missing the entire 2018 season, Cephus returned for the 2019 season and didn’t miss a beat, emerging as the team’s go-to target in the passing game.
Cephus led the team in nearly every receiving category, including receptions (59), yards (901), receiving yards per reception (15.3) and receiving touchdowns (7) as he played in all 14 games.
Cephus also played his best in big games against the Ohio State University in the Big Ten Championship (seven receptions for 122 yards) and Minnesota in the last game of the regular season (five receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown). He ended his Wisconsin career with seven catches for 59 yards and a touchdown against Oregon in the Rose Bowl.
Head Coach Paul Chryst also credited Cephus for being a great teammate during his time with the Badgers.
“He’s selfless. I think he’s an unbelievable teammate because one, he truly cares about the guys, each individual,” Chryst said in an interview with the Wisconsin State Journal. “He’ll do anything for them, he’s open to them, he’s got enough awareness that he kind of sees when someone’s working through something. He’s got a spirit about him. He’s got an infectious personality. He will find the good in people. When you get on the field, he loves playing the game and appreciates that opportunity to play the game and I think that’s infectious.”
While Cephus proved doubters wrong at Wisconsin, the question now is whether or not his success will translate to the next level as an NFL wide receiver.
Let’s take a look at Cephus’ draft stock with the NFL Scouting Combine and NFL Draft quickly approaching.
As you can see from the above stats, Quintez Cephus performed at a high-level during his junior season at Wisconsin. But, many scouts are concerned that his playmaking ability isn’t there and he won’t be dynamic enough to perform consistently at the NFL level.
While scouts have every right to be concerned about Cephus’ abilities, some of the worries associated with Cephus’ play can be attributed to shaky, inconsistent performances from Wisconsin’s quarterbacks in Alex Hornibrook (2017) and Jack Coan (2019).
Paired up with an NFL-level quarterback, Cephus could be a great fit for teams in need of receiving help in the league.
If Cephus wants to make good on his potential, he will also need to work on improving his ability to run crisp routes, as he isn’t what you could consider a receiver with elite speed compared to many NFL counterparts.
As an average-sized receiver measuring in at 6 feet 1 inch tall and 207 pounds, Cephus might need to beef up in the gym before the draft as most physically dominant wide receivers in the NFL today weigh 10 to 15 pounds more than Cephus.
While Cephus’ on-field abilities come into question among NFL draft scouts, so do potential off-field character issues.
Cephus missed all of the 2018 season due to two sexual assault charges raised against him at UW, both of which he was ultimately acquitted of. Despite this, Cephus has not had any other off-field issues — legal or otherwise — during his time at Wisconsin.
Still, Cephus will certainly be questioned about the incident during meetings with NFL scouts during the NFL Combine and Wisconsin’s Pro Day, and it will likely have an impact on his draft stock as well.
Right now, most mock drafts from around the sports world have Cephus as a Day 3 (rounds 4-7) pick, with a few drafts even listing Cephus as an undrafted free agent following the conclusion of the draft.
With a strong performance at the NFL Combine (Feb. 23 through March 2) and Wisconsin’s Pro Day (likely at some point in March), Cephus could easily find himself as a middle-round pick going to a team looking for a No. 2 or No. 3 option in the passing game.
Keep an eye on Cephus as the NFL Draft approaches, as he just might surprise everyone and compete with decent speed (4.5 second 40-yard dash time according to the Wisconsin State Journal) and great hands during his prove-it opportunities in February and March.
NFL Draft Projection: 5th-6th Round