Defense will wait again in Dallas. Rather than select former LSU defensive end K’Lavon Chaisson or help a shorthanded secondary, the Cowboys added former Oklahoma star CeeDee Lamb in Thursday’s first round. Defense figures to be a focal point for most of the draft’s remainder, beginning Friday in the second and third round.
Jerry Jones said the Cowboys had Lamb rated as the sixth best player overall on their draft board. Ultimately, he was the third receiver taken behind Alabama duo Henry Ruggs III and Jerry Jeudy.
The Cowboys may have difficulty stopping teams in 2020, but they must figure they’ll need to be slowed down first.
Lamb is a dynamic route-runner capable of playing all three spots, and he projects to see some action in the slot. As a junior in 2019, he showcased explosive ability after the catch while averaging a ridiculous 21.4 yards per reception. He totaled 62 catches for 1,327 yards and nine touchdowns.
Quarterback Dak Prescott adds Lamb to an already hearty spread of talent.
The rookie will share a field with Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup when the Cowboys operate from “11” personnel (one running back, one tight end and three wide receivers). Blake Jarwin will be featured at tight end. And then, there are running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard behind one of the most high-priced offensive lines in the league.
“It’s huge just to be a part of that,” Lamb said in a conference call late Thursday night. “I just want to be a huge contributor to the Cowboys offense, and I can’t wait to be there.”
With Lamb, the Cowboys have devoted their first-round pick on a wide receiver in consecutive drafts.
They traded their top 2019 pick to acquire Cooper from the Raiders in a 2018 midseason trade. Cooper was signed to a five-year, $100 million contract extension last month.
The first round brought Lamb to the offense.
And chopped liver for the defense.
Oklahoma head coach said the following of Lamb in a press release:
“I’m very thrilled for CeeDee and his family. Been there with him since day one and remember watching him when he was a sophomore in high school. The progression he’s made since then and the impact he made on the OU program and our university is just absolutely tremendous. Really excited for him here at the next level with the Cowboys. I think he’s got a great chance to have a long and very prosperous career.”
Lamb’s first-round selection means the Sooners have had receivers go on Day 1 in back-to-back years. The Ravens took Marquise Brown in the first round in the 2019 NFL draft.
Lamb, a Richmond native, was a 4-star prospect coming out of Foster High School in the 2017 recruiting class. His first two seasons were spent partially in Brown’s shadow as he didn’t lead Oklahoma in receiving yards until 2019.
Lamb is coming off one of the best careers a receiver has ever had at Oklahoma. He has two of the top seven receiving yardage seasons in school history and is third all-time in program history in total receiving yards with 3,292. He’s also second all-time in touchdowns (32), trailing only Ryan Broyles’ 45 career scores.
Lamb’s 2019 season, though, vaulted him into the first round of the draft. He was a Biletnikoff Award finalist, catching 62 passes for 1,327 yards and 14 touchdowns. His 10-catch, three-touchdown effort against Texas in Arlington was the biggest reason the Sooners won that game. He also caught eight passes for 173 yards in the Big 12 Championship game against Baylor that OU won in overtime.
NFL.com’s Lance Zeirlein: Explosive, three-level playmaker and vital cog in one of the most potent offensive machines in college football over the last three seasons. Lamb uses speed and separation quickness to dominate competition in a scheme that frequently created open throws in space. His routes will need to become more efficient and crisp to beat man-to-man coverage against NFL size and speed, but his ball skills and explosiveness with the ball in his hand should allow teams to scheme him into explosive opportunities right away. Lamb has the potential to play any of the three receiver positions as a pro and should benefit greatly from the NFL’s continued movement toward college-style passing attacks.
Grade the pick
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