NFL Draft: Why OU receiver CeeDee Lamb is making this process look easy
NORMAN — CeeDee Lamb sprinted toward a sideline packed with spectators during OU Pro Day, turned to locate the football, looked it into his hands, then glanced over his shoulder at the sideline.
"I wasn't gonna hit you," he said with a smile.
Then, he sprinted away down the field.
Lamb is making this NFL Draft thing look easy.
Later this week, the former OU receiver is expected to be one of the first — if not the first — receiver taken in the draft. Draft workouts, physicals and interviews have been curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic, which increases the risk teams will take on some prospects.
Lamb is no risk.
And that’s not just because he went to the scouting combine and had a pro day in a year when lots of top prospects never got a chance to do on-campus pro days.
He just makes everything look effortless.
- Related to this story
- Article: NFL Draft: With OU's Kenneth Murray 'everybody that’s talked with him trusts this kid with their life'
On pro day, one of the biggest days of his life, Lamb was loose. Smiling. Dancing. And yes, carrying on conversations with folks in the middle of pass routes. Lamb said afterward he had seen Sooner assistant Shane Beamer’s wife standing there, and when an out route sailed in her direction, Lamb wanted her to know she wasn’t in danger.
“I didn't want her to think I was gonna hurt her or anything,” he said.
He doesn't have such mercy on defensive backs.
He ran past, around and even through defenders over the past couple years. His ability to turn short passes into big plays is as good as any receiver in this draft. Think about how many games he changed this past season alone with yards he chewed up after the catch. Texas. Kansas State. Big 12 title game.
“I always call him CeeDee YAC because of the yards after catch,” ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper told The Oklahoman. “I mean, he's just a fierce guy with the ball in his hands.”
Kiper doesn’t believe Lamb is the best receiver in the draft — Kiper gives the nod to Jerry Jeudy from Alabama — but it's hard to go wrong picking between Lamb, Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III from Alabama and Justin Jefferson from LSU.
“You're splitting hairs there really with those guys,” Kiper said.
Still, Lamb has done some freakish things during the evaluation process.
After putting up solid numbers in the drills at the combine — 4.50 seconds in the 40-yard dash, for example, at 6-foot-2, 198 pounds — he really turned heads in the on-field drills. He made a leaping, spinning, somersaulting catch that prompted analyst Kirk Herbstreit to tweet Lamb is "in discussion for top player in this draft."
There were no such acrobatics during OU Pro Day, but he nearly made circus catches on a couple balls that were overthrown and a fade route into the corner of the end zone was snagged with a soaring leap.
"He's one of the more versatile (receivers) that we've had from a route-running perspective," Sooner coach Lincoln Riley said. "He's been able to do a lot of different things."
Lamb even did a few drills after the throw-and-catch portion of pro day that were unique. He fielded a balls thrown off the turf, some end over end, others spinning sideways.
Then came was a drill where he tossed a ball high in the air, caught a second ball thrown to him, then had to field the first ball while keeping hold of both.
Again, he made it look easy.
“Like when you’re a kid,” he said, adding it had been a while since he'd done that drill. “Once I got used to it, we’re just back at the playground again.”
CeeDee Lamb is making big-time football look as easy as afternoon recess.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 405-475-4125 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK or follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok.
Round 1: 7 p.m. Thursday
Rounds 2-3: 6 p.m. Friday
Rounds 4-7: 11 a.m. Saturday
TV: ABC, ESPN, NFL Network