When it comes to the 2022 season, there are a handful of Dallas Cowboys players who need to have impressive seasons if the team as a whole is going to experience legitimate success. Some of these go without saying like quarterback Dak Prescott. Others are obvious too like Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence. Another not-exactly-shocking name that needs to be in discussion for All-Pro and Pro Bowl accolades is wide receiver CeeDee Lamb.
This year will mark Lamb’s third in the NFL and he has yet to truly reach the alpha player that many expected him to be when he fell to the Cowboys during the 2020 NFL Draft. To be fair, Lamb spent a majority of his first season in the league without his top quarterback and has had to contend with the likes of Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup for targets throughout his career. This season is exciting for him given that Cooper’s departure has opened the door for him to really shine and that Prescott is not dealing with contract negotiations or a road back from injury meaning that he has a full and normal offseason to get right.
PFF ranks Dallas Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb just outside of top 10 and ‘elite’ category
In looking at where Lamb lies within the landscape of all NFL wide receivers it is difficult to place him because we don’t know exactly who he is quite yet. It is not uncommon for wide receivers to break out during their third year, in fact it was the third season in which this team’s previous number 88 took the leap from solid to elite as Dez Bryant put it all together in 2012.
Speaking of elite, PFF put together their ranking of receivers in the NFL and left Lamb just out of the ‘elite’ category which was their top nine. Lamb came in at number 12.
12. CEEDEE LAMB, DALLAS COWBOYS
Lamb was pigeonholed to the slot as a rookie in 2020 but was given an outside job in 2021, where he showcased his best play. Lined up out wide last season, the former Oklahoma Sooner was the sixth-highest-graded receiver in the NFL.
Lamb needs to get better with defeating press coverage, but he ate when given a free release. The 6-foot-2, 191-pound receiver also attacks the catch point well and is strong after the catch. He ranked top-five at the position in both contested catch rate (70% — 14-of-20) and broken tackles after the catch (19) in 2021.
This certainly speaks highly of Lamb and indicates that he could find himself in an ‘elite’ category after this season. It feels like the overall consensus really is that he has all of the tools and for the first time in his career the opportunity is going to line up with that.
Obviously part of the reason for Lamb’s soon-to-be increased volume is the departure of Amari Cooper. Many believe that the Cowboys gave up on a top-flight wide receiver, but PFF doesn’t seem to be one of them.
They have Cooper at number 22, right behind free agents Julio Jones and Odell Beckham Jr..
22. AMARI COOPER, CLEVELAND BROWNS
With Cooper’s PFF grade and per-route production declining each year he was in Dallas, the Cowboys brass dealt him to Cleveland for a fifth-round pick to free up cap space. While Cooper did fail to grow as a Cowboy, his route-running chops still shined. His separation rate against single coverage since 2020 stands at the 76th percentile among NFL wide receivers.
There is no question that Cooper has elite traits and can do elite things, but consistency was a problem during his time in Dallas and is likely a reason why the team felt so comfortable moving on.