Projections are the key to this time of year. This includes projecting win totals for a team, projecting the 53-man roster, as well as projecting whether players will perform better than last season.
We are starting a series of two parts about this. Three Cowboys may surprise you by their 2021 performances.
WR, CeeDee lamb
Although it may seem crazy, there is a real possibility that CeeDee Lamb will be the Cowboys’ leading receiver in 2021. Lamb’s rookie year was exceptional, despite playing with a backup quarterback for most of 2021. According to PFF, Lamb was the first round pick and caught 69 passes for an incredible 877 yard total. This is the longest rookie wide receiver has gotten since 2006.
He also demonstrated his ability to make big plays, with seven receptions exceeding 30 yards.
CeeDee Lamb slot receiving:
⭐ 69 catches
⭐ 877 yards
Most by a rookie WR since 2006 💿 pic.twitter.com/CyHbxOq4VO
— PFF (@PFF) January 31, 2021
Lamb will only get better as he enters the second year of the league. Lamb could easily surpass 1,000 yards if he can have a healthy Dak Preston throwing the ball for 17 games.
Although he’s not as well-paid or talked about as much by Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb will be Cowboys’ most productive wideout for 2021.
Andy Dalton to Cee Dee Lamb 51 yard bomb Touchdown Cowboys !!!! pic.twitter.com/fqTzHA4cSo
— GSH (@gman416) December 27, 2020
DE, Randy Gregory
Randy Gregory’s performance would rank at the top when it comes to the greatest positives from the 2020 season. He appeared in at least 10 games for the third time in his professional career. Gregory had a significant impact on the field during his time there.
Gregory had four sacks, which tied him for second in defense despite only playing in 10 games. Gregory also had 13 QB hurries and eight QB hits. His PFF pass rush productivity rating was 8.5, which is the 11th highest rating among edge defenders who played at least 10 games.
Gregorys’ pass rush grade of 81.9 was his highest and 13th-highest among edge defenders in all of the NFL.
Gregory will be playing in the back-to-back season for the first time since 2016. Gregory could become one of the top pass-rushers in the NFL in 2021 if he can stay on the field for 17 games.
In 35 snaps vs. Eagles, Cowboys DE Randy Gregory notched 6 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 QBH, a pass deflection and three forced fumbles. pic.twitter.com/6symAhASr3
— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) December 28, 2020
CB Jourdan Lewis
It seemed as though Jourdan Lewis’s time with the Cowboys was over after the 2020 season. Dallas was a different kind of person and brought back the slot corner in a $13.5 million, three-year deal. The Cowboys had a lot faith in Lewis, giving him a long-term contract. This may be due to his performance towards the end.
Lewis played his best game in the 2015 season against the 49ers. According to PFF, Lewis had a sack and a PBU. He allowed only 3.5 yards per reception.
Although Lewis had his challenges in 2020, he may find some consistency playing under Dan Quinn as his defensive coordinator. He has always been a solid cover guy with an average PFF coverage score of 69.5 in his three first seasons. He also has a knack for making plays.
He is the clear favourite to be the Cowboys’ starting slot cornerback. Dallas spending $13 million seems to indicate that they believe he will succeed.
Although he won’t be the league’s dominant slot corner, he will look a lot more like the man we saw in 2017-2018. He could have a great year, depending on how Trevon Diggs develops and Kelvin Joseph’s play.