Can you believe the 2020 NFL Draft was three months ago? Training camp is moments away from kicking off, and if all goes as plans, the season will be here before we know it. Rookies are reporting to camp, and will begin their first season in the NFL while trying to make a positive impression to crack the starting lineup.
With the preseason getting cancelled, rookies will need to prove themselves in camp workouts now more than ever. Without those game reps in preseason (no matter how limited or meaningless we think they are), rookies won’t have opportunities to make splashes against NFL competition and force NFL coaches to make tough decisions when it comes to playing time with veteran players.
Cowboys first-round pick, CeeDee Lamb, is penciled in as the teams WR3 to start the year. Coming out of Oklahoma in 2020, the best word to describe Lamb was electric. While not the quickest wideout in his class, Lamb won using his frame, ball skills, explosiveness after the catch, and alpha-mentality to bully opposing cornerbacks in college. Without the ability to see him against opposing competition in preseason, what should we expect from CeeDee Lamb at the start of his rookie-season?
For Lamb, he’s walking into a perfect situation on the depth chart. With Cedrick Wilson, Devin Smith, Noah Brown, and Jon’Vea Johnson as the only valuable wide receiver replacements on the roster, it’s hard to see a situation where Lamb isn’t on the field in 11-personnel formations. There is already a ready-made spot for Lamb in the slot, a position that was vacated by Randall Cobb in free agency. As previously noted on this site, while Lamb ran just over a quarter of his routes from the slot last season in college, the average yards resulting from those routes were much higher than on the outside.
But given his size, speed, and route-running ability, Lamb is able to lineup anywhere on the field for the Cowboys, and so is Amari Cooper. That makes for endless opportunities for Mike McCarthy and Kellen Moore to mix-and-match formations and route-combinations. With the season that Cooper and Gallup are coming off, Lamb will really have to blow up early for the Cowboys to bump Lamb into the top two receivers in 2020, but we shouldn’t totally count that out.
One way the Cowboys can utilize Lamb’s talents is either getting him the ball quickly in pass patterns and letting him work his YAC magic, or they could even use him on occasion as a ball-carrier. There has already been chatter that he could see some jet sweeps, something that would open up his crafty ability to make defenders miss in the open field. The Cowboys will also need to decide if Lamb could be a weapon returning punts on special teams.
There’s still plenty of time for the Cowboys to make a decision on Lamb’s role, but unlike every other season, they will need to make a decision without seeing him on the field before week one. Either way, the Cowboys have one of, if not the best, wide receiving corps in the league, and CeeDee Lamb is going to be a big part of it.
What do you think are realistic expectations for CeeDee Lamb for his rookie season?