For years, the Dallas Cowboys were seen as a ground and pound team on offense. While they still have one of if not the best running back in the NFL in Ezekiel Elliott, the passing attack of the Cowboys has emerged as one of the most lethal in the league. So much so that Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup all had their best professional seasons in 2019 and the Cowboys possessed the league’s top-ranked offense.
That high level of production, coupled with the addition of rookie CeeDee Lamb, has expectations for the Cowboys passing game through the roof. So much so that Pro Football Focus ranked the Cowboys receiving core as the best in the NFL heading into the 2020 season.
Of course, it all starts with Cooper. Since he was acquired via trade Cooper has had a huge impact on Cowboys offense. He caught 53 passes for 725 yards and six touchdowns as the team went 7-2 in its final nine games to claim the NFC East title in 2018. Even though the team struggled with an 8-8 record last season Cooper set career highs in yards (1,189), touchdowns (8), and yards per catch (15.1). Since joining the Cowboys, Cooper ranks fifth in yards (1,914) and tied for first in receiving touchdowns (14).
Cooper’s exceptional route running and ability to play on the outside and in the slot makes him one of the league’s best receivers and a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses.
Gallup took a significant leap last season. He upped his game to 66 receptions for 1,107 yards and six touchdowns, doubling his production in all three categories from his rookie campaign. His chemistry with Prescott, which was a little shaky in year one, took a step up as well in 2019. After hooking up on 48.5% of their passes in 2018 it improved to 58.4% last season. Also, Gallup was one the league’s best on intermediate routes (10-19 yards) last season as his 483 yards ranked ninth in that category. A true dynamic number two receiver.
Lamb, selected with the 17th overall pick in the draft, brings a completely different dynamic to the Cowboys offense. Much like Cooper, he can play in the slot and on the outside. Now, the Cowboys can essentially move all three of their top receivers around and create all kinds of mismatches for defenses. Lamb can attack the middle of the field from the slot and force more one-on-one opportunities on the outside for Cooper and Gallup or he can stretch the defense downfield from the perimeter. He’s a third option with number one option capabilities, making him a very dangerous weapon in the Cowboys aerial assault.
Behind this talented trio are a few interesting names. Devin Smith and Cedrick Wilson are talented, however, the injury bug has struck both and hasn’t allowed them to maximize their skills. With Cooper, Gallup, and Lamb ahead of them on the depth chart, it’ll be extremely difficult to find opportunities for either, but both finding a way to make the roster will give the Cowboys excellent depth at the receiver position.
The Cowboys have three receivers who can be number one options plus promising talent behind them. Without question this one of the more talented receiving cores in the NFL.