Yahoo Sports' top 2020 NFL draft prospects, No. 9: Oklahoma WR CeeDee Lamb

Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports
Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports

9. Oklahoma WR CeeDee Lamb

6-foot-2, 198 pounds

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 6.27 — possible immediate starter

TL;DR scouting report: Explosive producer with outstanding body control and ball skills, even if he lacks elite speed and can fine-tune his approach

The skinny: A 4-star Rivals recruit (and top 100 nationally), Cedarian “CeeDee” Lamb chose the Sooners over Alabama, LSU, Texas and Texas A&M, among others — even though he briefly decommitted from Oklahoma before reupping with his pledge. Lamb took the field immediately for OU as a true freshman, supposedly catching the eye of Baker Mayfield in 7-on-7s. In 14 games (13 starts), Lamb was named Freshman All-America, catching 46 passes for 807 yards and seven TDs, setting the school record for receiving yards by a freshman.

As a sophomore in 2018, Lamb was named honorable mention All-Big 12, catching 65 passes for 1,158 yards and 11 receiving touchdowns. He also returned 17 punts for 218 yards.

In 2019, Lamb was named first-team AP All-America and first-team All-Big 12 and was a Biletnikoff Award finalist. He caught 62 passes for 1,327 yards with 14 touchdowns in 13 starts.

Lamb, who turned 21 years old in April, declared early for the 2020 NFL draft. He attended the combine and performed all of the drills except for the 3-cone and short shuttle. Lamb performed positional work at his pro day but stood on his combine numbers.

Upside: Good play speed — glides and seamlessly changes gears. Builds up RPMs and can surprise people with how he moves. Ran better-than-expected 40-yard time at the combine. Turned in a terrific on-field portion of the combine workout.

Eats up zone coverage. Can attack every part of the field — short, deep, middle. Does outstanding work on the sideline — tiptoes it like a ballerina. Plays bigger than his size but also has the quickness of a smaller receiver.

Outstanding ball skills and body control. Aggressive mentality on contested catches — tracks and attacks the ball like a pro. Author of some insane catches, such as this absurd gem (out of bounds, but still) vs. UCLA in 2018:

It was out out bounds, but this is just absurd.
It was out out bounds, but this is just absurd.

Eye-opening big-play production — 24 catches for more than 40-plus yards in career. YAC monster — averaged a whopping 11 yards after the catch, per PFF, which was third-best in FBS (behind Alabama’s DeVonta Smith and FAU’s Deangelo Antoine). Extremely tough to tackle after the catch, bouncing off and slipping defenders, making them miss or even running through them.

Open-field creativity is a real skill — great field awareness. Against Iowa State, Lamb does nothing special on this stop route, but it’s what he does after the grab that displays his rare ability in the open field (and some toughness at the end) on a 63-yard touchdown:

Sure, this is bad defense. But Lamb's post-catch creativity is real.
Sure, this is bad defense. But Lamb's post-catch creativity is real.

Makes the most of his opportunities — only saw 88 targets last season (tied for 112th in FBS) but his 1,325 receiving yards ranked eighth. Reliable — hauled in 70.3 percent of the passes thrown his way and had only 12 drops on 245 career targets. Handled punt returns for three straight years. Enjoys delivering crack-back blocks. Better on end-arounds than his rushing numbers would suggest.

Tough-minded and physically tough — played through a shoulder injury in 2018 that lasted several weeks. Remembers his doubters. Plays with an edge. Big-game player who will make the necessary sacrifices when no one is watching.

Downside: Lean frame that might be close to maxed out — went from 173 pounds to 195 in his first year on campus and might not be able to stay over 200 with sacrificing movement. Average arm length (32 1/4 inches) and below-average hand size (9 1/4 inches). Two offensive linemen this year matched his vertical jump number (34 1/2 inches).

More effective vs. zone coverage than man — can’t separate and pull away as easily. Didn’t face a lot of press coverage. Speed is of the build-up variety — pedestrian 10-yard split (1.58 seconds) on combine 40. Was caught from behind several times (such as by LSU’s 255-pound K’Lavon Chaisson) in his career.

Production can be a little hot or cold, game to game — posted seven games with 119 or more yards last season, but also five games with 46 or fewer. Did most of his damage vs. LSU out of the slot and was held to one catch apiece by the outside corners.

Lamb had three passes in this game that he normally grabs but didn't come down with.
Lamb had three passes in this game that he normally grabs but didn't come down with.

Lined up predominantly on the left side of the formation — only a handful of reps on the right side, plus about 300 snaps in the slot (mostly left side) in three seasons inside. Blocking can be spotty at times.

Whistled for 11 penalties the past two seasons, including three false starts, two offensive pass-interference calls, two personal fouls and two unsportsmanlike conducts. Lost his cool against Texas Tech in 2018 — cost his team 30 yards in penalties on one play after a DB egged him on; the Sooners were at the 7-yard line but ended up punting on the drive because of it.

Occasional bouts where he shows a lack of football awareness — careless fumble vs. Iowa State, which allowed them back into the game late. Makes a few shaky decisions on punt returns that can lead to negative-yard returns.

And what was Lamb thinking here on this reverse against Kansas? (Of course, he made up for it with a long punt return and TD catch minutes later.)

This was just a risky decision by Lamb here.
This was just a risky decision by Lamb here.

Caught passes from college-football QB royalty — Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts, two Heisman Trophy winners and one finalist. Played in Lincoln Riley’s wide-open scheme with top-tier skill-position talent.

Feasted on Big 12 corners and safeties the past three years (the conference has produced one top-100 DB pick the past three years and might only have one this year in TCU’s Jeff Gladney). Big 12 receivers in general have been a decidedly mixed bag in the NFL.

Best-suited destination: Lamb has the play speed and competitiveness to become a Pro Bowl receiver in the right system. He might be used more as a big slot in the NFL but also should be expected to be an outside receiver.

Among the teams we believe are interested in Lamb’s services include the Arizona Cardinals, Las Vegas Raiders, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys.

Did you know: As a senior at Foster High School in Richmond, Texas, Lamb caught 98 passes for 2,032 yards and 33 touchdowns. He also ran back three punts for touchdowns that year.

As a sophomore, he caught back-to-back Hail Mary passes as time expired to win a game. The first was negated because of an illegal-man-downfield penalty. The second won it against Calhoun High.

They said it: “I trained with Cris Carter a little bit, and Anquan Boldin. Cris Carter taught me how to stop. I never thought it would be so hard, but he did a great job of really emphasizing that to me. And Anquan really helped me as far as the top of my routes and just to get in and out and faster.”

— Lamb at the combine

Player comp: We’re not the first to say it, but Lamb gives off some serious DeAndre Hopkins vibes. That’s his ceiling, we believe.

Expected draft range: Top-15 pick.

Previous prospect rankings: Nos. 100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-66 | 65-61 | 60-56 | 55-51 | 50. DT Justin Madubuike | 49. CB Damon Arnette | 48. OT Ezra Cleveland | 47. WR KJ Hamler | 46. CB A.J. Terrell | 45. RB Cam Akers | 44. DL Ross Blacklock | 43. OT Josh Jones | 42. DT Jordan Elliott | 41. C Cesar Ruiz | 40. S Kyle Dugger | 39. EDGE Terrell Lewis | 38. WR Laviska Shenault Jr. | 37. S Grant Delpit | 36. Jonathan Taylor | 35. WR Brandon Aiyuk | 34. EDGE Zack Baun | 33. EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos | 32. CB Jeff Gladney | 31. QB Jordan Love | 30. CB Trevon Diggs | 29. EDGE A.J. Epenesa | 28. RB JK Dobbins | 27. WR Justin Jefferson | 26. WR Tee Higgins | 25. S Xavier McKinney | 24. WR Jalen Reagor | 23. CB Kristian Fulton | 22. RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire | 21. WR Denzel Mims | 20. LB Kenneth Murray | 19. RB D’Andre Swift | 18. QB Justin Herbert | 17. LB Patrick Queen | 16. WR Henry Ruggs III | 15. EDGE K’Lavon Chaisson | 14. WR Jerry Jeudy | 13. OT Mekhi Becton | 12. DT Javon Kinlaw | 11. OT Andrew Thomas | 10. OT Tristan Wirfs | 9. WR CeeDee Lamb | 8. OT Jedrick Wills Jr. | 7. CB CJ Henderson | 6. LB-S Isaiah Simmons | 5. DT Derrick Brown | 4. QB Tua Tagovailoa | 3. CB Jeffrey Okudah | 2. QB Joe Burrow | 1. Chase Young

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