Pick a stat category for wide receivers, and Cowboys superstar CeeDee Lamb is near the top of the list. Total receiving yards? He’s 11th in the league through three games. Targets? Tied for 8th. Catches? Tied for 7th. Receptions of over 20 yards? Tied for second and just behind the leader. All impressive rankings for the second-year standout.
But if you ask Calvin Johnson, newly-enshrined Pro Football Hall of Famer and one of the greatest to ever play the position, Lamb is a prime candidate for topping them all and being recognized as the best receiver in the NFL.
The former Lions All-Pro singled him out Thursday during an appearance on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football.
“I love seeing CeeDee Lamb. I love watching that kid go up and make a play on the ball,” Johnson said when asked about the younger wideouts in the game today and pressed to pick one who could rise to the top of the heap.
CEEDEE LAMB BOMBS AWAY pic.twitter.com/IOZZN5xtkV
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) September 28, 2021
Lamb wowed as a rookie; he came within 65 yards of breaking 1,000 in his first pro campaign (with no training camp) and instantly cemented himself as the Cowboys’ pass-catcher of the future.
And he’s looking to build off that in his second season.
“I feel like the jump [from Year One to Year Two] is definitely there,” Lamb said back in June. “It’s all on the future to gauge it. I am excited about the future.”
The future is here, and it’s off to a repeat start. The 22-year-old Lamb is ahead of his rookie pace in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns through three games.
But it’s not just what shows up in the box score. A good chunk of Lamb’s offseason was spent working to be a better blocker.
“Definitely this year, I took a lot more pride in it,” the Oklahoma product said after Week 2’s win. “Last year, I feel like I fell off a little bit, just off the lack of strength. I feel like I’ve built enough to be a little more effective on the blocking end. I’m going to take a lot more pride in it going throughout the season.”
It showed against the Chargers on a catch by Cedrick Wilson, where Lamb popped Los Angeles safety Nassir Adderley in the open field. It wasn’t a glamorous play, but it allowed Wilson to pick up almost 10 extra yards.
This is Cedrick Wilson and not Tavon Austin. I promise. pic.twitter.com/5CRFUjyIKx
— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) September 21, 2021
Lamb came within a few precious inches of his second touchdown of the young season on Monday night, going up to snatch a jump ball against Philadelphia. Just a little more oomph from Prescott on the throw, and it’s a score. But Lamb felt like he should have made the adjustment himself to get in.
“The ball’s not always going to go where you want it,” he explained this week. “It’s my job to make it right. That’s what I try to do.”
He does it quite often. The Cowboys’ 2021 training camp featured a near-daily video clip of Lamb making one insane catch after another, frequently in heavy traffic. He told reporters this summer, “As a typical receiver, I feel like if the ball is in the air 50/50, the receiver is feeling like it’s 100/0, always. I’m looking to be more aggressive.”
Lamb certainly has all the tools. And after displaying the same for nine spectacular seasons, the iconic Megatron believes Lamb could easily transform himself into the best-in-class for this era.
“The guy can move. The guy’s elusive. He’s not a tiny receiver. He likes to go up and make a play. I see a guy that goes up and use their hands and pinpoint that ball,” Johnson continued in his praise for the things Lamb does exceptionally well. “And run good routes, and catch with your hands. Those are two things for me that I love to see in a receiver. I mean, yeah, you’ve got to catch the ball with your body sometimes, but I can’t stand body catches, man. Use some hands; that’s what they’re for. You’re a receiver.”
He is indeed. And one of the greatest receivers ever says that, based on what he sees, Lamb could- soon- be the greatest receiver in the league today.