The Dallas Cowboys have gone through a good amount of change this offseason. With COVID-19 impacting normal offseason activities and eliminating preseason games, the changes add another dynamic for the team to overcome this fall.
Jason Garrett is out of town after a decade leading the team, and Super Bowl-winning coach Mike McCarthy is now in charge. The Cowboys saw Byron Jones, Robert Quinn, and Randall Cobb leave in free agency, and the team went out and inked Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe to improve the defense.
Perhaps the addition that made the biggest splash happened in the draft. Dallas, already having a pair of 1,000-yard wideouts on its roster, did not hesitate when former Oklahoma Sooner star CeeDee Lamb fell into their laps. The Texas high school football product was among the best overall players across the nation on the college football level while in Norman, and he should immediately provide the Cowboys with game-breaking talent.
The Athletic recently published an article that gathered feedback from each NFL beat writer predicting the next wave of NFL standouts. For the Cowboys, Jon Machota picked Lamb for the article and explained why he thinks the first-rounder will find success in McCarthy’s offense.
Dallas Cowboys: CeeDee Lamb, WR — Breakout impact starter
Wide receiver wasn’t the Cowboys’ biggest need entering the draft in April, but Lamb was too good to pass up at the 17th pick. Although Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup are likely to see a significant number of targets (both had more than 110 last season), Lamb is expected to get plenty of opportunities as well. He should fill in nicely at the spot vacated by Randall Cobb, who signed with Houston in free agency. Look for second-year offensive play caller Kellen Moore to get Lamb touches as an outside receiver, inside receiver and ballcarrier on jet sweeps. Lamb hit the ground running in his true freshman year at Oklahoma with 46 receptions for 807 yards and seven touchdowns, so there’s no reason to think he won’t be an immediate impact player for the Cowboys. — Jon Machota
With Cobb’s 83 targets off to Houston, Lamb has a golden opportunity to step right in and become a legitimate target for Dak Prescott and the Cowboys offense. Lamb possesses big time talent, as he showcased each and every Saturday while catching passes from Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, and Jalen Hurts.
The one thing that stands out about Machota’s blurb is that there is a chance that we could see Lamb carrying the football on jet sweep plays. Kellen Moore is one of the young, bright minds in all of the league right now, and McCarthy has a history of using receivers in different ways (think Cobb and Ty Montgomery with the Packers).
Tavon Austin has been the guy in the Cowboys offense that has seen plays designed for him in that regard, but he remains unsigned at the moment. Lamb, meanwhile, feasted on opposing defenses in the open field — both after the catch and on punt returns — during his time with the Sooners. Therefore, it only makes sense for the pairing of McCarthy and Moore to want to get the ball in Lamb’s hands in every way possible.
As a pass catcher, Lamb was nearly unstoppable in Norman. Playing with three different signal-callers with three different skill sets and abilities, Lamb was a consistent target from his true freshman season in 2017 to his All-American campaign as a junior in 2019. In fact, Pro Football Focus states that Lamb’s passer rating when targeted at Oklahoma was a staggering 145.8.
Regardless if it is through runs on jet sweeps or simply throwing him the football, CeeDee Lamb has a real chance to be a big-time player in the Cowboys offense alongside Cooper, Gallup, tight end Blake Jarwin, and running back Ezekiel Elliott.
The abnormal offseason makes the jump from college to the pros even steeper than usual, but Lamb possesses the talent to become a factor for Mike McCarthy and Kellen Moore sooner rather than later.