Now that CeeDee Lamb is the Cowboys’ primary receiver, here’s how he can improve - Michael Gehlken, Dallas Morning News
The pressure is on CeeDee Lamb to step up as the new WR1.
With Cooper and Wilson gone, Lamb should handle more responsibility in 2022. And less. The increase will come on offense where Lamb can set the tone at the position, developing into more of a leader. Production is a key facet of that, as he can fill the void Cooper leaves at flanker. That position means Lamb will overall factor more prominently in route progressions than he did the past two seasons.
Hence, his details better be on point. Lamb teased his potential when totaling 79 receptions for 1,102 yards and six touchdowns in 2021. There were also moments where he looked like a 22-year-old who has missed meaningful time on task. Prescott threw 10 interceptions that year. Wilson, tight end Dalton Schultz, wide receiver Malik Turner and running back Ezekiel Elliott were the intended targets on one interception apiece. Prescott was throwing for Lamb on the other six.
According to Pro Football Focus, Lamb dropped eight passes. That was twice that of Wilson, the next-closest teammate. And there were more nuanced moments that don’t necessarily show up on a stat sheet, like when Lamb ran the wrong route and clogged the spacing with Schultz before turning up the seam on a busted fourth-down attempt in New Orleans. Lamb has shown flashes. With more polish, he can produce brilliance.
Taking a look at what a defense-focused draft class may look like.
“You can never have enough pass rushers. You are always looking for pass rushing and cover corners,” McCarthy said. “They are premier positions that you always have to take more time. And the numbers in the draft look to be high this year.”
The Cowboys’ 24th overall pick isn’t typically an ideal spot to land either of those positions – but then, No. 17 overall was never supposed to be a possibility for Lamb. Perhaps they could have some more good fortune if a highly-touted prospect like LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. or Florida State defensive end Jermaine Johnson were to fall to them.
If not, the Cowboys clearly feel good about their options later on. The team has been heavily linked to Ole Miss pass rusher Sam Williams, who most regard as a Day 2 draft pick. As the front office has also noted on numerous occasions, the Cowboys are also enamored with the depth of a draft class that has seen its numbers swell with players who were granted added eligibility by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cowboys' Offseason Failures Will Doom Dallas for 2022 NFL Season - Maurice Moton, BleacherReport.com
Is there an overreaction happening to the offseason?
Owner Jerry Jones and COO, executive vice president and director of player personnel Stephen Jones agreed on two key draft needs, per The Athletic's Jon Machota. "When asked this week, Stephen Jones mentioned wide receiver, tight end and offensive line. Jerry Jones mentioned pass rusher, offensive line and tight end," Machota wrote last Friday.
Let's start with Dallas' biggest miscalculation at wideout. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the Cowboys thought they'd be able to retain Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson Jr. as the team planned to part ways with Amari Cooper: The Cowboys whiffed on that plan. They traded Cooper and a sixth-round pick to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for a fifth- and a sixth-rounder and re-signed Gallup on a five-year deal worth $57.5 million in base value, but Wilson inked a three-year, $22.1 million contract with the Miami Dolphins.
Quarterback Dak Prescott has a go-to target in CeeDee Lamb, but he lost a receiver with two 1,100-plus-yard campaigns and a couple of Pro Bowl years with the Cowboys in Cooper. Say what you want about his down 2021 campaign, but he immediately uplifted the team's offensive attack after the club acquired him from the then-Oakland Raiders before the 2018 trade deadline.
Pre-draft visits and comments suggest Cowboys, Jones family have receivers on their mind - David Moore, Dallas Morning News
It seems very possible the Cowboys could use pick 24 on a wide receiver.
— The club applied the $10.9 million franchise tag to Dalton Schultz to keep him from departing in free agency. The decision made fiscal sense and provided quarterback Dak Prescott with a needed safety blanket with the trade of Amari Cooper and the departure of Cedrick Wilson. Dallas has until July 15 to sign Schultz to a multi-year deal. That could happen. But, when asked about that possibility in Palm Beach, Stephen Jones had an interesting response.
“We’ve got to see where we end up with everything from an overall standpoint,’’ the Cowboys executive vice president said. “Obviously, the fact we franchised Dalton tells you all you need to know about what we think of him so let’s see how that progresses.’’
Jones has to see where the Cowboys end up? That means the club is intrigued by a tight end or two in this draft. If Dallas is able to land one of those players, it could be content to let Schultz play out the season on the franchise tag and retain that financial flexibility going into next season.
3 draft prospects the Cowboys can get to replace Randy Gregory - Jarrett Prendergast, The Landry Hat
With Randy Gregory out the door, the Cowboys will look for a pass-rusher in the draft.
2. Nik Bonitto, Oklahoma Since edge rusher is not the Cowboys’ top need, they are going to have to find some steals at the position later in the draft. Nik Bonitto from Oklahoma is another player that should not be picked until day two and can give Dallas an immediate upgrade on defense. While many focus on day one and top-10 prospects, there’s no denying that some of the best talent in the NFL has come from later rounds in the draft.
In his senior season at OU, Bonitto had 39 total tackles, seven sacks, and one forced fumble. The former Sooner is another athletic rusher that uses speed and bend to get to the quarterback. Despite being small for the position at 248 pounds, he still competes in the run game as well.
Bonitto is a Pro Football Focus darling, putting up number such as a 27.9% pass rush win rate, 93 pressures, and the aforementioned 94.0 pass-rush grade for his career. But, it is not just his pass-rush ability that makes him effective. He also has some ability in coverage if need be.
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