'Why CeeDee Lamb?'
Lamb seems to be the popular pick for the first receiver off the board in the 2020 NFL Draft and in a class full of talented pass-catchers, that is saying a lot.
What makes Lamb different from the other top tier receivers in this class?
1 - Proficiency in contested catch situations
Lamb flashed the ability to absorb contact while maintaining possession, even as a True Freshman.
An 807 yard - 7 touchdown season was a sign of things to come.
If you go back and re-watch some of the snaps from his Freshman year as a Sooner, you can see glimpses of a budding star.
This is one of those 'budding star' plays I talked about above.
4th quarter of the Rose Bowl.
We see the timing, strength and leaping ability to climb the ladder to hold onto the ball in contested catch situations.
Great play by the corner to recover & contest, but when you watch Lamb, a lot of times it won’t matter how well the defender plays the ball.
Because Lamb will play it better.
He out muscles, out positions and out plays defensive backs when the ball is in the air.
One of the greatest predictors of both success for collegiate receivers entering the next level is how they perform in contested catch situations.
This is where Lamb shines and is an aspect of his game that will immediately carryover to an NFL field.
It's difficult to disrupt Lamb at the catch point. He always stays locked onto the football and on balance through contact.
2 - Catch concentration
Lamb is great through multiple points of distraction.
He is able to concentrate, and block out the noise around him to make a play on the ball.
A true 'my ball’ mentality.
This is an interesting part of Lamb's game, but one that will come in handy at the next level.
He's able to consistently locate, and pull in balls that are tipped in flight.
He never breaks point of concentration, and will be a quarterbacks best friend on tight window throws.
He simply puts on a masterclass whenever the ball is in the air.
Consistently displaying a high level of focus while fighting off contact, and is always able to get to his spot.
3 - In-flight adjustments
There isn’t an athlete in this class who is a better in the air than Lamb.
Not many receivers make a play like this, and make it look as easy as he does.
Perfect encapsulation of who CeeDee Lamb is as a player.
The acrobatic, one handed grabs are the ones that make the highlight reels, but it's these type of plays that Lamb makes consistently that make him an intriguing talent.
Glides backwards to get in perfect position for Murray's ball, all while shielding the defender from making a play.
Lamb consistently makes the adjustments necessary to secure difficult catches near the boundary.
Some receivers have a 'sixth sense' of sorts for where the chalk is.
Lamb is one of those receivers.
CeeDee Lamb knows 'when.'
This will be touched on a lot throughout this series on Lamb, but his precise timing in various areas of his game is something to marvel at.
Lamb has extraordinary feel for where he is in space and how much time he has to make a play.
He plays the position with a nuanced, craftsman like approach that will undoubtedly shows up on Sunday’s.
4 - Movement intellect
An area of Lamb’s game that doesn’t get talked about enough is the high level of intellect he possesses when the ball is in his hands.
He is not overly quick, or abrupt, but wins with the glue that makes all movement in field sport come together.
Here Lamb has an interesting problem to solve.
He has a '2v3 - one option situation to begin'
His lead blocker is taking one defender towards the boundary, and making this a '1v2'
Lamb is able to time the leverage commitments perfectly here and is able to get around both defenders to score.
5 - Through contact skill set & yards created post-catch
Lamb plays like he’s 215lbs, and exhibits some of the best play strength & through contact capabilities you’ll see from a sub 200lb player, at any level.
He has as broad a skillset as I’ve seen from a receiver in navigating and creating solutions for different contact types.
Like I stated earlier, Lamb wins with precision instead of physical quickness.
This is how he wins in the open field, and how he manages collisions.
The subtle, controlled nature he plays with is extremely hard to gauge if you’re a defender.
From a perceptual cognitive standpoint a defensive player quickly ‘processes & perceives’ the outcome of the situation.
This is often difficult for the defender because Lamb moves differently from a timing perspective from players they’ve encountered in similar situations.
Lamb has a broad through contact skill set, and he is not afraid to overpower defenders to gain additional yardage.
One of the most physical players in this 2020 class.
6 - Winning at the line of scrimmage
The subtly in Lamb's movement skills show up on curl, and comeback routes.
He presents an interesting blend of smooth and sudden, that is extremely hard to mirror for defensive backs.
Variation, tempo & timing are how Lamb wins at the line of scrimmage. He rarely rushes to his spots, and takes his time setting up the defender in front of him.
Lamb has solutions for every type of coverage you throw at him.
7 - Willingness as a blocker
We talk about Lamb’s physical, aggressive nature as a player and this is where it shows up the most, as a blocker.
For 198lbs, Lamb packs a punch.
(Top of the screen)
Taking plays off doesn’t exist for Lamb.
Regularly is Lamb making plays away from the ball, and setting up for an RPO like he does here.
Lamb’s field IQ makes him a great downfield blocker.
The willingness to help his teammates is what offensive coordinators love to see from their star receiver.
No diva mentality here.
8 - Play speed
Lamb has above adequate play speed, and actually timed out faster than I anticipated at the NFL combine (4.50s)
What was even more impressive than his 40 yard dash was that he showcased elite capabilities during early acceleration when he clocked in a 0-10 yard split of 1.46s.
Which in fact, was faster than John Ross (1.49s) when he broke the 40 yard dash record in 4.22s at the 2017 NFL combine.
Lamb gets to top-end speed in a hurry.
9 - Landing spot: Dallas Cowboys
At first glance, the Dallas Cowboys receiving core looks crowded and congested, however there are 190 vacant targets heading into 2020. Lamb is going to benefit from having Amari Cooper & Michael Gallup around him and should see a plethora of man coverage during his Rookie season. Amari Cooper may not be around after 2021 since he has an out in his contract, which would mean WR1 type volume for Lamb in the near future.
10 - 'Who is CeeDee Lamb?'
Lamb is the most pro-ready receiver in this deep and talented 2020 class. He possesses all of the physical traits you want to see in a pass catcher and has an alpha mentality when he steps onto the field. He should be an immediate contributor and has All-pro upside in the right situation.
If you noticed, there really wasn't a weak point in Lamb's game that was highlighted. He is as polished as they come out of college and is ready to make an impact in an NFL offense. Lamb did not experience a lot of press coverage during his time at Oklahoma, but with his level of physicality and capabilities as a mover, this should not be an issue at the NFL level.
For fantasy purposes, Lamb possesses the ceiling of an elite WR1 and should at worst see WR2 - WR3 production as a Rookie depending upon landing spot. I would take Lamb over popular players like Swift and Dobbins in Dynasty Rookie drafts and put him in an elite tier of offensive prospects.
Pro-ready skill set
Inexperience against press coverage