When CeeDee Lamb fell to the Cowboys in the 2020 NFL draft, Dallas’ draft strategy flew right out the window. They never entertained the idea of Lamb, someone who many perceived to be the top WR in the class, to be available at No. 17. So when the Oklahoma standout fell into their laps, they were caught off guard.
Despite the surprise, it didn’t take a strategy session or practice simulations to know what to do when a player like Lamb is standing front and center. The Cowboys drafted him, and as they say, the rest is history.
Since joining the Cowboys three years ago, Lamb has posted year-over-year improvement working alongside a variety of teammates and playing in a variety of roles. He’s risen to every occasion and is currently making the case to be considered one of the NFL’s preeminent superstars.
Leading up to the current season, there was some concern Lamb’s numbers would start to plateau in 2023. Mike McCarthy took the reins as chief play-caller and seemed determined to limit risk on offense.
Playing with an elite defense meant McCarthy wanted a safer passing attack and ever-present ground game. Coupled with a deep WR corps, there was a fear Lamb was in store for a reduced target share and less big play opportunities downfield.
Through two games, Lamb has put those fears to bed.
CeeDee Lamb is operating at a record breaking pace for the Cowboys. His 55.3% receiving share is the highest since 1945. His 1870 yard pace would be all-time top-5 & his 88.2% catch rate is almost unfathomable given the difficulty of some of his catches pic.twitter.com/BNrL9SnrZQ
— Reid D Hanson (@ReidDHanson) September 19, 2023
With 220 receiving yards on 15 receptions, Lamb currently ranks sixth and seventh in the league, respectively. His 88.2 catch percentage is staggeringly high. There’s not a single player in the top-30 in receptions who bests Lamb’s catch percentage, and his 12.9 yards per target leads the league for those with 15+ receptions.
Lamb is on pace to pull in over 127 receptions for 1,870 yards in 2023. That yardage would give Lamb the fourth-highest single-season total in NFL history, bumping Jerry Rice down to fifth.
CeeDee Lamb is the only player in the NFL to account for over half (55.3 pct) of his team’s receiving yards in 2023.
This will not hold up, but this list all-time is wild.
Highest pct of team receiving yds in a season in #NFL history:
1. Jim Benton – 60.4% (1945)
— Tony Holzman-Escareno (@FrontOfficeNFL) September 18, 2023
Working against Lamb, however, is his current target share.
With so many good targets on the roster, it’s probably unsustainable. Michael Gallup and Brandin Cooks will surely see an uptick and even the Dallas TE group will likely see a growing role in coming weeks.
Then again, the Cowboys have yet to even be in a close game. They’ve won the first two weeks by a combined 70-10 and haven’t had the need to fire shots downfield. Lamb has posted these gaudy numbers with Dallas playing somewhat conservatively.
There’s a strong likelihood the offense will open up when the scores become tighter and McCarthy has to generate more on the offensive side.
It’s too early to predict how things will unfold over the next 15 games but early returns show Lamb is on pace for some all-time numbers. His growth in the Cowboys’ offense has yet to plateau and the 24-year-old will post his best year yet.
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