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CeeDee Lamb Making Leap for Cowboys, Joining NFL's WR Elite

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb

The wide receiver All-Pro race is over. We don't need to think about it anymore. 

Tyreek Hill and A.J. Brown are obvious choices. They are playing well enough to get as much or more MVP run as their quarterbacks. There won't be an All-Pro ballot anywhere without those guys on it. 

After Sunday, the third selection should be just as clear. It's CeeDee Lamb, without a doubt. 

Lamb embarrassed the New York Giants defense on the way to a 49-10 win. He finished with 14 targets, 11 catches, 151 yards, and one touchdown. It was a grown-man performance from start to finish.

Lamb was snagging one-handers and making tough catches in traffic. He was Dak Prescott's preferred target on broken plays and was untouchable with the ball in his hands. But that's just as a receiver. Lamb also ran in a 14-yard reverse in the first half for a touchdown. Everything you could get from a dominant receiver, Lamb delivered on Sunday. 

This is off the back of two other 10-catch, 150-plus yard games in back-to-back weeks. Lamb easily cleared each of those benchmarks against the Eagles last week and against the Rams the week before. 

If that kind of run sounds unfathomable, that's because no one had done it until now. Lamb is the only player in NFL history with at least 10 catches and 150 yards in three straight games. Even in a year with receivers playing at an all-time level elsewhere, Lamb finds ways to stand out.

Lamb Against the Field

Lamb has been going off all year. This little run he's on has firmly put him in the elite tier, but he was balling even before he put himself in the history books. Lamb is playing like an All-Pro receiver, no matter how you dice it. 

To that end, let's compare Lamb to the rest of the league's high-volume targets. There are 16 players this season with at least 75 targets through 10 weeks — true No.1 target caliber players. They all earn at least 21 percent of their team's total targets, most of them more than 25 percent. Lamb, for instance, ranks 11th at 27.5 percent.


Lamb is outpacing the field on a per-target basis. Los Angeles Chargers WR Keenan Allen barely edges Lamb out in total EPA, but Lamb comfortably leads his high-volume peers with 0.66 EPA per target. If you were to take EPA literally, the Cowboys are getting two "added" points for every three times they target Lamb. That is incredible production.

To be that kind of productive, a player has to be efficient and explosive. Lamb is. He's an automatically successful play with a high dice roll chance of generating an explosive gain. 

Lamb ranks third in success rate among these high-volume receivers at 61.8 percent. Better yet, 49.5 percent of his plays go for a first down or a touchdown, second only to Hill and Brown (of course). There's a coin flip's chance that Lamb is getting you a new set of downs or six points every time the ball goes his way. 

As far as explosives, Lamb has 10 plays of at least 25 yards this season. Only three other players can say the same: Hill (13), Brown (13), and Allen (11). No other player has more than seven. Lamb has the juice.

Inside Out

The coolest part of it all? Lamb is doing it in a different way than ever before. 

For years, Lamb was a dominant slot player. He could play outside and did so in 2021 and 2022, but he was never as effective on the outside. Lamb's game was always about toughness, body control, and a feel for space. All of those traits served him better inside rather than out. 

Not anymore. Lamb is an entirely different beast on the outside now. He can beat press. His routes are sharper. He looks like a natural when he has to work the sideline in tight spaces.

Just look at Lamb's yards per route run from the outside over the years. Lamb is almost twice as productive on the outside as the past two seasons. 

Lamb has upped his game every year he's been in the pros, so it's hardly surprising the switch finally flipped in this department, but the magnitude is startling. Lamb went from a fine outside player to one of the best in the league. Lamb's 4.17 yards per route run from the outside this season is second only to — you guessed it — Hill.

In Lamb We Trust

To be clear, the Dallas Cowboys don't feature Lamb outside more than they did before. Lamb has taken 39.0 percent of his snaps from the outside this year, which is down from each of the past two seasons. That's still a relatively even split with his slot snaps, though, and now Lamb is suddenly dominant at both. Even though Lamb's outside usage hasn't gone up, the efficacy of his play from the outside has changed the Cowboys' offense for the better. 

Think back to what the Cowboys offense looked like on the outside last year. Lamb was functional, but you could still rough him up at the line of scrimmage, and he wasn't immediately separating like other star outside receivers. Michael Gallup was completely juiceless on the other side. 

The combination of Lamb's inconsistency and Gallup's consistently poor play gave Prescott few easy throws in isolated situations on the outside. 

That's not been the case in 2023. Lamb can win vertically versus press just as he can snap off a curl route and burst away from the cornerback for easy separation. You see him winning on digs, slants, comebacks, etc. 

Lamb can now separate on all the big boy outside receiver routes, unlocking the Cowboys' offense. Prescott finally has a dude he fully trusts on the outside. For a quarterback as aggressive as Prescott, that's been a godsend.

Knocking No Longer

Lamb has undoubtedly entered the tier of receivers who define their offenses. When you think of the Miami Dolphins, you think of Hill. Brown for the Philadelphia Eagles. Ja'Marr Chase for the Cincinnati Bengals. Cooper Kupp for the Los Angeles Rams. Stefon Diggs for the Buffalo Bills

Lamb was knocking on the door of that group in years past, but now it's undeniable. He isn't just a slot savant anymore. Lamb is one of the best wide receivers in the league, full stop.

Derrik Klassen is an NFL and NFL Draft film analyst with a particular interest in quarterbacks. Klassen’s work is also featured on Bleacher Report and Reception Perception. You can follow him on Twitter (X) at @QBKlass.