There isn’t a position in the 2020 NFL Draft that is as deep as the wide receiver group is this year. Much like it was in 2018, when the Dallas Cowboys selected Michael Gallup in the third round, there’s an opportunity to find a starting level player after the top 50 picks. However, the names at the top of the receiver class, CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy, and Henry Ruggs III, are in a tier that is a cut above the rest of the class. While wide receiver isn’t a top priority for the Dallas Cowboys, adding one of these three players could pay huge dividends to an offense that was already one of the best in 2019. While any of those three would make an immediate impact for Dak Prescott and Kellen Moore, CeeDee Lamb from the University of Oklahoma is the best wide receiver in this draft class.
Had Lamb been draft eligible for the 2019 NFL Draft, he would have been the best wide receiver prospect in that class. CeeDee Lamb is a better NFL prospect than the speedy Brown and would have been the first wide receiver taken in the draft last year.
In three seasons at the University of Oklahoma, Lamb never averaged less than 17.5 yards per reception. In his junior year of 2019, the Sooner’s number one wide receiver averaged 21.4 yards per reception with Jalen Hurts at quarterback. He was fortunate to get to play with two Heisman Trophy winners, and a Heisman finalist in Jalen Hurts during his time at OU, but that shouldn’t diminish the skills he brings to the field.
As impressive as his numbers were in 2019, they could have been better. The Sooners often opted to run the ball with their stable of running backs or with Quarterback Jalen Hurts, leaving the passing game as an afterthought. Still, Lamb finished sixth in the nation in receiving yards and fifth in touchdowns despite less than 90 targets on the season.
While Jerry Jeudy gets lauded as an excellent route runner and arguably the best in the 2020 NFL Draft, that shouldn’t diminish the reality that Lamb is an excellent route runner in his own right. Lincoln Riley used CeeDee Lamb to run routes in every part of the field and all over the route tree. He’s fluid in his routes and uses good body lean and footwork to game cornerbacks.
Though he’s not as fast as Henry Ruggs III, Lamb has enough speed to challenge defensive backs deep and his athleticism makes him an excellent jump-ball option on the boundary.
CeeDee Lamb is very good going over the middle. His physicality allows him to absorb contact and make things happen after the catch.
In the running game, Lamb is an outstanding blocker. Because of the threat he is in the passing game, he’s able to use his route running ability to set up defenders for blocks in the run game. The Sooners have had one of the best rushing attacks in college football over the last few years. A lot of that credit goes to the offensive line. However, CeeDee Lamb’s contributions as a run blocker on the outside shouldn’t be understated.
Per Pro Football Focus, only one player in college football that had at least 80 targets last season averaged more than CeeDee Lamb’s 3.99 yards per route run. Though he only took 99 snaps from the slot last year, 276th in the nation, he averaged 6.11 yards per route run with 25 receptions on 35 targets for 605 yards and seven touchdowns.
He’s a dynamic player that can win at every level of the field. He has the route running prowess to be a big slot receiver similar to a Michael Thomas. That versatility would allow Kellen Moore to interchange Lamb and Amari Cooper to better take advantage of the matchups they’re facing from week to week.
While it generally takes wide receivers time to acclimate to the NFL level of competition, CeeDee Lamb is one of those players that could be an impact performer for the Dallas Cowboys right away. His ability to break tackles and make people miss after the catch allows him to be a big-play threat every time he touches the ball.
If you want to watch one game that personifies everything that CeeDee Lamb is about, look at the work he did against the Texas Longhorns in 2019. He was used at every level of the field and made people miss left and right. His fluidity, impressive change of direction, and ability to slip out of and bounce off of tackles make him a dynamic weapon that could be too good to pass on. At the 1:45 mark in the video above, you’ll see why CeeDee Lamb has the tools to be an excellent player in the NFL.
In 2018 against the Alabama Crimson Tide with Marquise Brown hobbled by a foot injury, Lamb caught eight passes for 109 yards and a touchdown and was a huge reason the Sooners were able to come back in the second half to make that a much closer game that it looked like it might be. In 2019, against the LSU Tigers, CeeDee Lamb had four catches for 119 yards.
Whether you draft CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy, or Henry Ruggs III, you’re likely to get an excellent player who will help your franchise right away and for years to come. However, if you’re looking for a guy with size, strength, route running, elusiveness, production, enough speed to win at every area of the field, a ton of experience, and the ability to succeed at every level of the field, CeeDee Lamb is your guy.
He can do it all. If the Dallas Cowboys have the opportunity to draft Lamb at 17, it would be incredibly difficult to pass on a player of his ability. He would take the offense from being one of the best in the league to arguably the best in the NFL for at least the next two years (until Michael Gallup’s contract is up).
CeeDee Lamb’s as good as it gets in this draft class, and if he’s there for the Dallas Cowboys at 17, they’ll have to think long and hard about not selecting him. If none of their defensive draft prospects are there that they’d prefer, Lamb would be an excellent addition to the Mike McCarthy West Coast-Kellen Moore vertically attacking offense.