Don’t look now, but it looks as if the Dallas Cowboys could have a new No. 1 wide receiver emerging from the ranks. For nearly three years now, Amari Cooper has carried that No. 1 distinction and thrived in that role, but the stage is set for things to change in 2021 with a second-year WR set to improve on his impressive rookie season.
The idea of CeeDee Lamb taking over as Dallas’ go-to receiver entering his second year with the Cowboys is a little out there, but not totally so. In fact, Jon Machota laid the groundwork for this idea in his latest article for The Athletic.
Machots’s article is about the most to least likely scenarios that could play out for the Dallas Cowboys in 2021, and CeeDee Lamb falls in right in the middle of the pack for leading the team in receiving yards this year. If true, for most people that classifies as being the team’s No. 1 receiver.
7. CeeDee Lamb leads the team in receiving yards.
Lamb has only scratched the surface of what he can be in the NFL. He should lead the Cowboys in receiving yards for many years to come. But will he step into that No. 1 role this season? Amari Cooper is still the team’s No. 1 wide receiver. He led the team in receiving yards last year with 1,114. Lamb was second with 935. Cooper, Lamb and Michael Gallup all have a realistic shot at going over 1,000 yards this year, as long as Prescott is healthy. And Prescott has a good rapport with all three, so any of them could end up leading the team in this category.
Everything Machota says above is absolutely true. CeeDee Lamb has only scratched the surface of his potential in the NFL and should improve by leaps and bounds entering Year 2. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll take over as the team’s No. 1 receiver, but the potential is definitely there for such a thing to happen. And here is why.
While Amari Cooper has played the No. 1 role well since arriving in Dallas in 2018 via trade from the Oakland Raiders, he hasn’t been the most reliable. He has a tendency to disappear at times and nagging injuries have also been a problem. Right now injuries might be the biggest concern for him considering his recent ankle surgery that could prevent him from participating in the start of training camp.
Another bold prediction, inside a bold prediction, is that Cooper would be much better out the slot where he can use his precise route running ability and change of direction skills to his advantage against defenses No. 3 corners. A move like that could also help him fight the injury bug and become more reliable by cutting his snap count a smidge. But, that would mean Lamb would be pushed to the outside in his place.
This move could be mutually beneficial for both players. A win-win if you will. Lamb’s strength and ability to track and high point the ball down the field would serve him well on the outside. Where as Cooper’s route running and change of direction ability would serve him best out of the slot. It could cause a ripple effect that makes the entire offense more potent.
Don’t look for any of these changes to be put in effect this year, but Lamb is the team’s future No. 1 WR in the not too distant future, if not this season. He definitely checks all the boxes to be promoted into that role and he already has Dak Prescott’s trust. Because of that, it’s only a matter of time before the new No. 88 emerges as the top dog.