For those of you following the NFL offseason leading up to the draft on April 23rd, you may have seen a lot of mock drafts that have the Arizona Cardinals taking wide receiver Ceedee Lamb at #8 overall. Keep in mind that a lot can happen between now and April 23rd, but it’s looking increasingly likely the Cardinals are going to at least take a long look at Lamb should he still be available. Should they pull the trigger and get their future WR1 for Kyler Murray? Let’s take a look at Lamb’s game in more detail.
Draft Profile: Ceedee Lamb- WR, Oklahoma- 21 years old
This wide receiver class is shaping up to be historically elite, and maybe the best one we’ve seen in the last decade (yes, that also includes the elite WR class of 2014). If this was any other draft class, Lamb would be the consensus number one ranked receiver. His main competition for the number one spot is Jerry Jeudy out of Alabama, an equally explosive playmaker on the perimeter.
Hands: Ceedee Lamb has absolutely tremendous hands, by far the best in this draft. Of his 62 receptions for 1,327 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2019, he only dropped 5 passes. His average catch rate over his three years at Oklahoma was 72%. For reference, Michael Thomas’s catch rate this past year was 80%. If Lamb can simply keep that number where it is in the NFL, he’ll have no trouble developing into a quality wide receiver. His top percentile catch radius no doubt helps his low drop percentage, as he has the ability to catch any ball thrown remotely near him.
Route running: Lamb has also shown that he has a very diverse route tree. He played a fair amount of his snaps from the slot, and showed that he has the versatility to be deployed all over the field. While not uber-athletic like a Jeudy or a Henry Ruggs, Lamb is quite adept at gaining separation no matter what coverage is deployed against him. This is one area where he outshines Jerry Jeudy, as Jeudy had limited exposure to press coverage when he was at Alabama.
Has shown success with multiple quarterbacks: Ceedee caught passes from three different quarterbacks in all of his three years at Oklahoma, and he remained productive no matter who was throwing him the ball. Sure, two of those quarterbacks are currently NFL starters (Mayfield and Murray, respectively) but Lamb was able to adapt to multiple styles of quarterback play and remained one of the favorite targets on the team.
Not an athletic freak: This is the main area where Lamb falls short of Jeudy. To be fair, a player with Jeudy’s speed and athleticism doesn’t come around that often. But comparing them in a vacuum, Jeudy along with fellow Crimson Tide receiver Henry Ruggs both have more straight up athleticism and explosiveness than Lamb does.
Route running tree not as extensive as Jerry Jeudy’s: I really had to dig deep to find another weakness in Lamb’s game, because he honestly doesn’t have very many. This “weakness” is nitpicking at this point, but it could cause some teams to look at Jeudy more favorably than Lamb.
Here is why the Cardinals should strongly consider taking Ceedee Lamb at #8 overall: chemistry, chemistry, and more chemistry
You may remember back in 2018 when Kyler Murray helped the Oklahoma Sooners field one of the most explosive offenses in the entire country. This helped Murray take home the Heisman Trophy as an electric, dual-threat playmaker. With Marquise Brown getting most of the spotlight on that offense, people often forget that Lamb had just 10 fewer catches than Brown did while also scoring one more touchdown than he did that year.
The system that Arizona now runs under Kliff Kingsbury is very similar to what Oklahoma ran with Murray at the helm, utilizing a spread, air-raid attack with a lot of four wide receiver sets. Not to mention that Lamb already has a year’s worth of chemistry with Kyler Murray. This should make his transition to the NFL that much easier.
Ceedee Lamb would be able to slide in almost immediately to the number one wide receiver spot, with promising up-and-comer Christian Kirk and the future Hall-of-Famer Larry Fitzgerald sliding into each of the slot positions. Having those three as your top pass catching options with Kyler Murray under center would make this offense devastating for defensive coordinators to deal with.
NFL wide receiver comp: Deandre Hopkins
Let’s be clear. Deandre Hopkins is one of the best receivers in the entire league, and Lamb has a long way to go before he hits that level of production. But in comparing the two, I see a lot of similarities. Neither of them are the most athletic at their position, but both are very technologically sound and seemingly never drop a pass. Both are also very good at gaining separation and being able to high point slightly errant passes as well as coming down with contested catches.
I think Murray is talented enough to let Ceedee have that Hopkins-level production a few years down the road. And at just 21 years old, Lamb has the chance to be a dominant WR1 in the desert for at least the next decade. If it comes down to the Cardinals deciding between him and Jeudy, they should not let themselves be distracted by all the Jeudy hype and go with the better fit in Ceedee Lamb.
Other possible NFL fits:
New York Giants: The Giants have sorely lacked an explosive wide receiver on the outside since Beckham was shipped to Cleveland a year ago. Sterling Shepherd has done well, but is a slot receiver and was injured for a lot of 2019. Giving Daniel Jones a true WR1 would be huge for his development as a passer.
New York Jets: The other New York team is in an eerily similar situation to the Giants. Sam Darnold is a young quarterback that doesn’t have many weapons to work with. Jamison Crowder was a pleasant surprise in 2019, but again he is a slot receiver and doesn’t have the ability to be a game-breaker like Lamb does. Darnold would have a much easier time progressing in year three if the Jets give him a bona fide number one receiver to work with.
Las Vegas Raiders: If Lamb somehow falls to the Raiders at #12 overall, it would be a big mistake not to take Ceedee in that spot. The Raiders leading pass catcher last year was a tight end, and that should tell you all you need to know about their receiving core. Tyrell Williams was a nice addition, but he dealt with injuries throughout the year. Meanwhile, Hunter Renfroe wasn’t productive until the tail-end of last season. Adding an outside presence like Lamb would help Derek Carr (should they decide to keep him) bounce back from a mediocre year in 2019 as well as take some of the pressure off of rookie phenom Josh Jacobs, who also missed a fair amount of time this past year due to injuries.
Picture Source: Dallasnews.com
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