There’s a new player in the Philadelphia Eagles’ backfield with the team claiming rookie Jason Huntley off waivers on Sunday.
In order to learn more about Philly’s new running back/kick returner, I thought it’d benefit BGN readers to get a Detroit Lions perspective on Huntley. Here’s my exchange with the keen Kent Lee Platte, whom you may recognize from Pride Of Detroit or Pro Football Network or Relative Athletic Scores.
Before we get started, I should note that Kent said the following when I reached out to him about doing this exchange: “Sure. Love that guy. I do, however, hate you and all Eagles fans for stealing him. Just making sure you know that up front, you jerks.”
1 - What was the word on Huntley coming out of camp? How was he looking?
Huntley got work behind Kerryon Johnson and Ty Johnson (D’Andre Swift and Bo Scarbrough were injured). While Ty Johnson was a bit disappointing as a rookie, he came on strong in camp and didn’t relinquish snaps to anyone behind him.
As a returner, Huntley looked fine with the ball in his hands but struggled somewhat to secure the football. He was trying to steal a spot from All Pro returner Jamal Agnew, but Agnew was on fire in camp so that never materialized.
2 - Why did the Lions cut him? To what extent is losing him a mistake?
The Lions cut him prior to their signing of Adrian Peterson, so that didn’t affect it, but he essentially was just unable to beat the guys ahead of him. Kerryon Johnson and D’Andre Swift are recent 2nd round picks, Bo Scarbrough was their lead power back last year, and as mentioned Ty Johnson came into camp strong and didn’t falter, making this just about numbers.
Losing him is a mistake in that the team has serious injury issues with almost every one of their backs, and with D’Andre Swift currently failing there is a void for someone with receiving skills to demand snaps.
3 - What are his strengths?
Huntley is all about speed. He’ll never wow you with power, playing all of his diminutive size in that area, but give him the ball and some space and he can cause damage. An exciting athlete with serious wheels, Huntley is a danger to go the distance whenever he has the football.
4 - What are his weaknesses?
He’s not quite as dynamic when space gets smaller, suggesting his instincts and vision need work, and his issues catching returns should probably give some pause even if he looks ready to house it whenever he gets the rock.
5 - Anything to know about him, on or off the field?
On field, Huntley displayed exceptional speed and soft hands in the receiving game during his college days. He was also an exciting returner, relying on rocket boosters to keep him mostly clean whenever he had the space to get free.
While he certainly has the speed to return punts, Huntley was almost exclusively a kick returner in college which may have contributed to his camp struggles with the Lions, trying to take on new responsibilities. He’s a difficult back to catch, but not necessarily a difficult back to take down when defenders get their hands on him.
My comp for Huntley, stylistically, was Tarik Cohen. How the Bears used the similarly quick and house dangerous Cohen in the run and passing game shows the kind of complementary component he can be for an offense that has a Batman and just needs a Robin.
BLG’s take: Huntley might be an upgraded version of Adrian Killins. There’s a chance he could be returning kicks for the Eagles as soon as Week 1, especially with Jalen Reagor and Quez Watkins currently injured. Likely won’t see much of Huntley in the offense this year.
With pick 172 in the 2020 NFL Draft, the #Lions selected Jason Huntley, RB, New Mexico State.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 25, 2020
He posted a great #RAS with very poor size, great speed, elite explosiveness, okay agility at the RB position.https://t.co/qkSTe39WeF#OnePride pic.twitter.com/1ysNuEe7p6