The Dallas Cowboys got an early Christmas present in the 2020 NFL Draft. CeeDee Lamb, who many had as a top 10 pick, fell to Dallas at 17. The expectations began to run rapid, and the former Oklahoma Sooner showed that he could live up to them.
Through the first four games of the season, Lamb was on pace for 84 receptions and over 1,200 yards. Unfortunately for the rookie sensation, Dak Prescott went down in Week 5 with a season-ending ankle injury, and his production took a significant hit. Prescott is back healthy, and according to Pro Football Focus, Lamb will continue his blazing start from a year ago because of it as they named him a 2021 breakout candidate.
“CeeDee Lamb's rookie campaign was also derailed by a quarterback injury. During the weeks when Dak Prescott was healthy, Lamb recorded the sixth-most receiving yards (433) and led the NFL with 395 yards from the slot. The Oklahoma product saw his production plummet after Prescott’s injury, going from 86.6 to 45.6 yards per game during the final 11 contests of the season.
“Lamb lined up in the slot on 93.2% of his receiving snaps in 2020 and cemented himself as one of the league’s best slot receivers as a rookie. In fact, he put up the best rookie performance from the slot PFF has ever seen. His 69 catches and 877 yards both rank first since PFF started tracking data in 2006. With Prescott back at the helm, expect Lamb to ball out in 2021.”
Despite the quarterback carousel that existed in Dallas, Lamb still managed to have an excellent rookie season. He finished with 74 receptions (franchise rookie record) for 935 yards and five touchdowns. He became the first receiver in league history to have at least five receptions in his first six games, while also becoming the first receiver in the history of the Cowboys to have two 100-yard performances in the first five games of his career.
Prescott may have only had four full games with Lamb last season but the chemistry between the two was there as they hooked up at a 72.4 percent rate over that span. The Cowboys signal-caller agrees with Pro Football Focus about Lamb taking his game to another level as he explained a few weeks ago.
“My expectations are super-high,” Prescott said, via 105.3 The Fan. “I’m so excited for CeeDee. … He’s a special playmaker that we’re privileged to have and he’ll be big-time and definitely have a breakout season.”
No matter what others may think about your play there's nothing like the expectations within yourself. Back in April, Lamb made it clear that he's ready to build on his rookie campaign and reach a higher plateau.
“I want to focus on me being better for the team and definitely want to be as impactful on the team as I possibly can,” Lamb said, via Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News. “Naturally, the team will get better. We started a whole new system if you will. We got a new defensive coordinator [Dan Quinn]. Offensively, we got everybody back. It’s a whole new role. I’m looking to be a better version of myself. To be better than last year and if everyone has that mindset as a collective group we’ll be better.”
Not only is Prescott back under center but the Cowboy's top-three offensive linemen Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, La'el Collins, who missed 36 games combined in 2020, are also back healthy. With Prescott upright and protected, Lamb's second NFL season will be spectacular.