The New York Jets need help at wide receiver. Between the dominant Alabama and LSU seasons, SEC wideouts are being given a lot of attention. So where does CeeDee Lamb fall?
One of the key offseason needs for the Jets is wide receiver. CeeDee Lamb received a higher Combine rating by the NFL than Jerry Jeudy, who will likely be the first wide receiver taken off the board in Vegas. (6.81, 6.80 respectively)
In the off chance the Jets do not take an offensive lineman at number 11, it’s a strong possibility Lamb would still be available, depending on where standout receiver Henry Ruggs III falls. So how good is Lamb? Should the Jets even consider selecting him in the draft?
Lamb measured in at a respectable 6’2” and 198 pounds, as per the NFL Combine report. By NFL standards, he is marginally taller than the average receiver by two inches, and lighter than the average wide receiver by two pounds. His arm length measured in at 32 1/8”, which is roughly average. His hands measured at 9 1/2”, which again is roughly average. As per the Combine, Lamb ran a 4.5 40-yard dash, which is serviceable. He also had a 34.5” vertical jump, and a 10.3′ broad jump.
The biggest number that stands out is the 11 reps on the bench press. Considering the average wideout historically will bench somewhere around 15, Lamb performed less than ideal when it came to showing off his physical strength. This, of course, aligns with his thinner frame.
There would not be the hype around Lamb if it was not deserved. He has proven week in and week out to be an extremely explosive player. But that’s an easy assessment to make given his statistics, so where does that claim come from?
His Combine performance was very good. Especially during the Gauntlet drill (the receiver runs down the line catching balls from alternating sides), he had a near-perfect run. He stayed the course, and let his hands go get the ball, instead of letting the ball come to him. This is crucial in a transition to where what college considers an “open” receiver is a much larger area than what the NFL considers “open”. He demonstrated excellent body control and verticle jump during the brand-new fade ball drill, showcasing an ability to win the one-on-one toss up’s between a receiver and defensive back.
On film, he has excellent control of his body to readjust to less accurate passes and is very good at making moves after he has caught the ball. General managers are not just drafting a wideout, but an elusive punt returner as well. Frankly, when watching Lamb he looks like a slightly slower Tyreek Hill, wide receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs.
The biggest knock on Lamb is that he was at a Big 12 schools and played against Big 12 defensive backs. Part of what makes Jerry Jeudy so sought-after was the numbers he was putting up against SEC defenses, which is without a doubt the most talented conference in college football. NFL front offices don’t know if Lamb can compete with the likes of top tier talents at defensive back. Yes, he went 4 for 119 against LSU during CFP Playoffs, but he had zero touchdowns, and his longest reception (51 yards) was a jump ball in a mismatch against LSU Safety JaCoby Stevens who isn’t a particularly good coverage safety.
Ultimately, the concern of Lamb would be his ability to perform against the likes of New England’s Stephon Gilmore, Buffalo’s Tre White, and Miami’s Xavien Howard or newly acquired Byron Jones.
During the Combine, Lamb did not impress with his ability to get off the line or give a good release during the fade drill. On film, for Lamb to succeed he either needs to be lined up in the slot, or have the corner play in an off-man or zone coverage to give him the room he needs.
Should the Jets take Lamb at number 11 if they decide to not take an offensive lineman? No. The Jets receiver core is in desperate search of a big-bodied primary receiver. Lamb is another Robby Anderson, a very good, very efficient second receiver. He does not possess the bodily characteristics to compete as a primary receiver, and a concern about his lack of competition weighs heavily on his draft stock, or at least his role with the New York Jets.