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Cowboys pull a stunner with CeeDee Lamb in the first round

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When CeeDee Lamb fell in their laps, they pounced.

College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - LSU v Oklahoma Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

For a while, it has looked like the Dallas Cowboys were locked on K’Lavon Chaisson if he was there when they went on the clock with pick 17 in the NFL Draft. Things fell right for them, with the Atlanta Falcons seen as the big threat to snatch the EDGE, but electing to take CB A.J. Terrell instead. So Chaisson was there.

BUT!

So was Oklahoma wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, who definitely slid after being seen as a likely top ten pick. And in what seems a major shift in the organizational philosophy, the team went with the best player, rather than the one that fills the biggest need, and took the offensive weapon for Mike McCarthy, Kellen Moore, and Dak Prescott.

Welcome to #Team40Burger.

In past years, the Cowboys have taken players that seemed strongly influenced by need. This year the need was almost entirely on defense. They include a pass rusher, a cornerback, a safety, and they had shown some interest in a linebacker who could serve in a pass rushing mode. But with a wide receiver that really should have gone earlier staring them in the face, they pulled the trigger. For some time there has been an argument made that if you can put up enough points, you don’t have to worry about the defense. Just outscore everyone. Somewhat amazingly, that looks like the plan for 2020. And as Pete Prisco of CBS Sports put it, “If you are true to your board and have a great grade on the guy, you have to take him.”

Lamb was regarded by many, including out own Connor Livesay, as the best wide receiver in the draft. But Henry Ruggs III was taken by the Las Vegas Raiders at 12, and the Denver Broncos opted for Jerry Jeudy with pick 15. Here, from Livesay’s draft guide, is a look at what Dallas is getting.

CeeDee Lamb has the size, route running ability, and is as good as it gets after the catch. Lamb is a plug and-play first round receiver with the ability to take over as a WR1 for most teams drafting in the front-half of the 2020 draft. Lamb can beat press and zone coverage, has reliable hands, and has a lot to offer with the football in his hands as a receiver and return man. While the overall athleticism isn’t eye-popping, he showed the ability to separate in all three levels of the field, and after the catch with great elusiveness and strength. Production and tape will make him WR1 on many teams boards.

Last year, things would not likely have played out this way, and Chaisson would have been the likely pick in these circumstances. But this is a new day for Dallas.

The Cowboys were also helped a bit in the previous picks with three quarterbacks taken in the first six selections, including Joe Burrow first overall. There was also a run on offensive tackles. As for Chaisson, he would go to the Jacksonville Jaguars three picks after Dallas.

Now, rather obviously, the Cowboys have to really focus on defense. It is possible that they only take players on that side of the ball with their remaining picks, and almost certain both of the day two selections will be defenders. They may prioritize finding the best EDGE and cornerback they can, but really, all positions are in play. The way they went with Lamb indicates that the position on the draft board is the one that really matters.

There is always hope that they might have lightning strike twice and someone will slide a lot to them, but that is not likely. So here are some names that may be in the right range for Dallas at picks 51 and 82, assuming they don’t engage in any trades on day two.

EDGE:

  • Terrell Lewis, Alabama
  • Curtis Weaver, Boise State (keep you eye on this one, because, you know)
  • Josh Uche, Michigan
  • Julian Okwara, Notre Dame
  • Jonathan Greenard, Florida
  • Darrell Taylor, Tennessee

DL:

  • Marlon Davidson, Auburn
  • Justin Madubuike, Texas A&M
  • Jordan Elliott, Missouri

CB:

  • Jaylon Johnson, Utah
  • Bryce Hall, Virginia
  • Cameron Dantzler, Mississippi State
  • Amik Robertson, Louisiana Tech
  • Troy Pride, Jr, Notre Dame

S:

  • Ashtyn Davis, California
  • Jeremy Chinn, Southern Illinois
  • Antoine Winfield, Jr, Minnesota
  • Terrell Burgess, Utah
  • Kyle Duggar, Lenoir-Rhyne

LB:

  • Akeem Davis-Gaither, Appalachian State
  • Troy Dye, Oregon
  • Willie Gay, Jr, Mississippi State
  • Malik Harrison, Ohio State