Cowboys rookie WR CeeDee Lamb can’t top AJ Brown’s rookie season
The Dallas Cowboys had a great 2020 NFL Draft headlined by Oklahoma WR CeeDee Lamb in the first round. However, the analytics suggest that he won’t catch up to the incredible rookie season that A.J. Brown had in 2019 for the Tennessee Titans.
What analytics? Specifically, the list that NFL Network Analytics Expert Cynthia Frelund just posted which projected the top 10 most productive rookie wideouts for next season.
For some backstory, the 2020 NFL Draft has been talked about as one of the most loaded wide receiver classes that we have seen in a long time. There were 6 wideouts taken in the first round of the draft, and the talent didn’t just lie at the top.
Players like Tee Higgins, Michael Pittman Jr, Denzel Mims, and Laviska Shenault were all taken in the second round of this year’s draft. All of these players are capable of great things in their rookie season, but it’s the Dallas Cowboys first round draft pick CeeDee Lamb that experts are most excited about.
Lamb’s Oklahoma resume shows exceptional production from the slot and an elite ability to earn yards after the catch. Lamb forced the second-most missed tackles on receptions (26, per Pro Football Focus) among FBS receivers and recorded the third-most yards after contact (376, per PFF) last season overall, but we need more context to spin all that forward to see the difference he’ll make for the Cowboys. Looking at his slot production (24.2 yards per reception from the slot, the second-most in FBS, per PFF) and his ability to operate in the middle of the field, and factoring in how defenses facing Dallas will also be forced to account for Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, Lamb has the highest rookie wideout ranking in my model, checking in at No. 38 among all NFL receivers.
CeeDee Lamb is projected #1 among rookies, but can he best AJ Browns rookie season?
PFF boasts about CeeDee Lamb’s ability to make defenders miss and rack up on yards after the catch, but can he compete with A.J. Brown who posted 465 yards after the catch in his rookie season?
A.J. Brown had the most 100-yard games in a rookie season (5) since Lamb’s new teammate Amari Cooper in 2015. So, Brown’s rookie season is up with the best of them.
CeeDee Lamb is an exceptional talent and he is already wearing that precious number 88 that great Dallas Cowboys receivers love, but pump the breaks if you think he can produce like A.J. Brown did last season for the Tennessee Titans.
For one, A.J. Brown was the clear cut #1 receiver for the Tennessee Titans so he wasn’t really competing for targets. Lamb is going to be playing out of the slot with former rookie standout Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Not to mention that Ezekiel Elliott will get his fair share of touches too.
Derrick Henry had 303 rushes last season while Zeke had 301. So, both receivers are coming into an offense that thrives off of their running back. The difference is that Zeke had 54 receptions last season, which is more than AJ Brown did, while Derrick Henry only had 18.
It’s going to be way too competitive on the Dallas Cowboys for CeeDee Lamb to produce in his rookie season like A.J. Brown did. He might be close to being as efficient, but as far as overall production goes? Don’t bet on it.