Jamal Agnew burst onto the NFL scene as a rookie in 2017, earning All-Pro status as a return man for the Detroit Lions.
Agnew's continued to make a big impact in the return game through his first three seasons, but he hasn't had as much opportunity to impact the game at the cornerback position. Agnew played 21 snaps on defense last year and 178 snaps total the two years prior to that.
Agnew is so dynamic with the ball in his hands as a return man. He has four return touchdowns (three punt and one kickoff return) in three seasons. Now Detroit's coaching staff has moved him to receiver in hopes of getting the ball in his hands more often in 2020.
"I think you saw a little bit of that right at the end of last year, right, where we kind of brought him over and gave him a few opportunities on the offensive side of the ball," Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said in a Zoom call Wednesday. "We really like his skill set."
Last year, Agnew played 16 snaps on offense, catching one pass and carrying the ball once. For his career, Agnew has three receptions for 16 yards and four carries for 35 yards on 29 offensive snaps.
Detroit returns all three of their top receivers from last season – Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr. and Danny Amendola. They also return big-play receiver Marvin Hall and have brought in Quintez Cephus via this year's draft, but still, Agnew's best opportunity to see the field in a non-returner role is probably on offense.
"With the ball in his hands, he does great things with it," Bevell said. "When you have those types of players, you want to get the ball in their hands."
Agnew has spent his time this offseason almost exclusively in the WR virtual meetings, according to Bevell, and having played cornerback the last three years, it shouldn't be a problem for Agnew to revert back there if they run into a situation where he's needed on defense. The Lions just wanted him to focus on one position this offseason, instead of flipping back and forth between offensive and defensive meeting rooms.
"Right now we're going to kind of lean that way," Bevell said of Agnew being a receiver. "Kind of let it go where it goes. I think he has a chance to help us."
Agnew is one of the fastest players on the Lions roster, and now he's on his way to learning the techniques and verbiage to compete for a roster spot at receiver. He'll be another weapon for quarterback Matthew Stafford in training camp.