On paper, the Dallas Cowboys had one of the best drafts they’ve had from a value perspective in the last decade. Of course, the players will have to take the field and earn the roles that we project them to have in 2020 and beyond, but there’s no doubt that this draft class has the opportunity to be as impactful as the 2016 class has.
That 2016 class provided a starting running back, linebacker (eventually), defensive tackle, quarterback, slot cornerback, and valuable special teams player. If all goes according to plan, the 2020 class has the opportunity to provide a starting slot wide receiver, two starting cornerbacks, a starting defensive tackle, a starting center, and a starting edge rusher. Some may start right away as Ezekiel Elliott did because of talent and as Dak Prescott did because of injury.
Regardless, several of these rookies will play significant roles for the Dallas Cowboys, but which Cowboys rookie will have the most significant impact? Brent Sobleski of Bleacher Report attempted to predict each NFL team’s most impactful rookie for 2020. For the Dallas Cowboys, he selected fourth-round Center Tyler Biadasz from the University of Wisconsin.
Here’s what Sobleski had to say:
The Dallas Cowboys’ Jerry Jones deserves plenty of credit for this year’s draft class. But one pick stands out a little more than the others with the owner/general manager completing a once-unthinkable deal.
The Cowboys traded with the rival Philadelphia Eagles in the fourth round to select Wisconsin center Tyler Biasdasz.
Biadasz entered the 2019 campaign as college football’s top-rated center. He didn’t play quite as well as expected yet still won the Rimington Trophy. Plus, concerns about offseason shoulder surgery pushed him down boards even more.
Executive vice president Stephen Jones said Biadasz emerged as a “blinking light” on the team’s board based on how highly the organization valued him, per the Dallas Morning News’ Calvin Watkins.
With Travis Frederick’s abrupt retirement, a fellow Wisconsin alum should immediately take over at center.
Brent Sobleski – Bleacher Report
With respect to Mr. Sobleski, there’s a good chance that fourth-round draft pick Tyler Biadasz starts the season as the backup center.
Whenever the Dallas Cowboys begin practicing, they’ll have a nice set of players to put into a competition for the starting center and left guard spots. At center 2018 starter Joe Looney, Connor McGovern, the 2019 third-round pick, and Biadasz will compete at center.
Of course, the Cowboys coaching staff could make it a two-man race between Looney and Biadasz, but still, Looney will have the inside track at the starting job. The familiarity between the quarterback and the center is an essential aspect of playing the position. The work Looney did in 2018 has been vastly underrated.
The Dallas Cowboys went to the playoffs in 2018 and won 10 games, all with Looney as the starter.
So, if Tyler Biadasz isn’t the Cowboys’ most impactful rookie in 2020, who is it?
Well, the most straightforward answer is most likely the correct one, and the simplest answer here is first-round pick, CeeDee Lamb.
Yes, Lamb is coming in as the third wide receiver behind Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, but that shouldn’t minimize the impact he will have in 2020. The Dallas Cowboys will likely see a considerable increase in the amount of three or more wide receiver sets they use in 2020. In 2019, they used three wide receivers on 67% of their offensive snaps per Michael Fabiano. In Mike McCarthy’s last season with the Green Bay Packers in 2018, they used 11-personnel on 77.2% of their offensive snaps per Football Outsiders.
Last year the Cowboys third wide receiver, Randall Cobb, saw 83 targets in 15 games and caught 55 passes for 828 yards and three touchdowns. His nine drops per Pro Football Focus were for fourth in the NFL among wide receivers.
It isn’t much of a stretch to expect CeeDee Lamb to see a similar target rate of 5.53 per game, but even if he sees fewer than that in his rookie season, he’ll still be a more impactful player during his rookie season. While teams will focus primarily on Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup in the passing game, it won’t take long for teams to show respect to CeeDee Lamb, whether he plays on the outside or in the slot.
Even if CeeDee Lamb doesn’t see the 83 targets that Cobb saw in 2019, he’ll still find a way to make a significant impact his rookie season.
Lamb’s ability to win at every level of the field is going to help Dak Prescott and the rest of the offense immensely. He’ll start in three-wide receiver sets from the get-go. He’s too talented of a player to sit on the sideline and watch when the Cowboys go to 11 or 20 personnel.
His blocking ability in the run game will allow the Dallas Cowboys to deploy him in all situations and on all three downs.
During the 2019 season at OU, Lamb had elite production on just 62 receptions because of his ability to win downfield and make things happen after the catch.
While Tyler Biadasz will compete for a starting role and may win the job out of training camp, Lamb’s presence will make everything easier for every aspect of the offense. Teams won’t be able to focus coverage solely on Amari Cooper for fear that Lamb and Michael Gallup will beat them for significant gains.
Because of the three-headed monster at wide receiver, teams won’t be able to stack boxes in the run game to slow down Ezekiel Elliott either, which will make the offensive line’s job easier in the run game.
I know it’s super obvious to predict that CeeDee Lamb will be the most impactful rookie for the Dallas Cowboys. Still, he’s got the most apparent path to an opportunity, and the talent is undeniable. There’s a reason the Dallas Cowboys had him as the sixth-best player on their overall board and the best player available when it came time to draft him. He’s received comparisons to now Arizona Cardinals Wide Receiver DeAndre Hopkins, and it’s hard not to see the similarities. Whether Lamb achieves that same level of success or not is the question. However, coming in as the Cowboys number three wide receiver will create lots of opportunities for Lamb to excel in his rookie season.
And by doing so, CeeDee Lamb will bring out the best in everyone on the offense.