Philadelphia Eagles: CeeDee Lamb is the best case draft scenario

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

After combing through hours and hours of combine tape, one player stands out as the ideal choice for the Philadelphia Eagles at 21: Oklahoma Sooners’ wide receiver CeeDee Lamb.

224 players will hear their names called during the 2020 NFL Draft.

That’s a lot.

Factor in a dozen or so undrafted free agent signees to each given team, and there will be as many as 600 soon-to-be-former-college players looking to make an impression, make a 53 man roster, and maybe even earn some playing time at the game’s highest level.

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But not all of these players are made equal. No, for every Tony Romo or even Dak Prescott who transforms and earns a career far above their initial draft grade, there are some who are tabbed for big roles right out of the gate. These are the players teams draft in the first round, place prominently in their promotional material, and hope above all else to become that missing piece to a championship equation.

Get these right, and a team can be set up for success for years to come. Miss on them? It becomes a whole lot harder.

The Philadelphia Eagles have been downright bad at drafting in the first round over the last decade.

As crazy as it sounds, of the last nine first-rounders selected by Howie Roseman – or in Nelson Agholor‘s case, Chip Kelly – only six are still in the NFL. Just for context, the oldest player among the group, the paradoxical Danny Watkins is only 35-years-old, and could conceivably still be in the league if he, ya know, actually enjoyed playing football.

So needless to say, the Eagles need to start the decade off with a bang at the 2020 NFL Draft, hopefully following Roseman’s preferred priority for acquiring playmakers.

But who, you may ask, should the Eagles draft with this crucial 21st overall pick? A cornerback? A defensive lineman? A safety? None of the above. After watching a season’s worth of college football and combing through the combine, there is one player and one player alone who rises above the rest and could become the Eagles’ next great homegrown star: CeeDee Lamb.

Measuring in at 6-foot-2, 198 pounds, Lamb is the prototypical NFL wide receiver. He’s tall, long, has a 124-inch broad jump, and a 34.5-inch vertical jump. While one would have liked to see Lamb run a tad faster than a 4.50 40 at the 2020 NFL Draft Combine, it’s far from a deal-breaker – especially when you turn on his game film.

Lamb can more or less do it all as a wide receiver. He’s big enough to win 50-50 balls on the outside, creative enough to get open against a variety of different coverages, and tough enough to get open in traffic when deployed out of the slot.

You probably don’t want to run Lamb on a go-route 40 times a game, but I imagine he’d have more success at it than Torrey Smith did in 2017.

Now sure, one can argue that Lamb did it all against the lesser competition of Big 12 cornerbacks. That’s fair. But when you look at the four most important games of his career – the Big 12 Championship game against Texas, the Orange Bowl against Alabama, the Big 12 Championship game against Baylor, and the Peach Bowl against LSU – Lamb combined for 568 yards and two touchdowns.

Think about that for a second, 17 percent of Lamb’s production came in his four biggest games – that’s insane.

Based on that alone, I’d be fairly confident that Lamb’s game will translate to the NFL-level, maybe even as a rookie, but all college production isn’t made equally.

No, unlike Tee Higgins, Henry Ruggs III, or Jalen Reagor, Lamb’s production came with a different quarterback in each of his three seasons in Norman.

As crazy as it sounds, Lamb caught passes from three different Heisman Trophy finalists, including winners Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, and transfer finalist Jalen Hurts. This is clearly noteworthy from a historical perspective, but it also highlights a player who found ways to remain productive despite having to adapt to the different talents, skill sets, and playing styles of three relatively different quarterbacks.

While Lamb would obviously have to learn a new scheme if he were to be drafted by the Eagles, as Doug Pederson‘s offense doesn’t have a ton in common with that of Lincoln Riley, his track record of adaptation could smooth over any rough spots, especially when paired up with arguably the best quarterback of his career.

To bring things back to the Eagles, Lamb could immediately slot into the Alshon Jeffery role on the outside from day one. From there, Pederson could experiment with transitioning Lamb inside to take advantage of mismatches a la Jeremy Maclin‘s tenure in Kansas City and even give him some snaps as a deep threat against shorter cornerbacks.

Lamb isn’t Ruggs. If the Eagles want speed and speed alone, then there are a handful of other players available who fit that bill, but if adding the best receiver available is the goal – which it kind of should be – Lamb’s bag of tricks is far more expansive.

There’s no doubt about it, Lamb is a franchise wide receiver regardless of how he is used; a receiver with college tape that looks like a mixture of Odell Beckham Jr. and DeAndre Hopkins.

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If CeeDee Lamb is on the board when Howie Roseman and company are on the clock at 21, an outcome some mock drafts are projecting, there isn’t a better player in the draft or otherwise who can come in and make a lasting impact with the Philadelphia Eagles from day one.