Cowboys WR depth chart: CeeDee Lamb leads new receiving corps decimated by injuries, missing Amari Cooper

For a myriad of reasons, the Cowboys receiving corps will look significantly different in 2022 than it did in 2021.

The team moved away from Amari Cooper and essentially dumped its paycheck on the Browns, a fifth-round pick and exchange of sixth-rounders in the NFL draft. Cedrick Wilson Jr. left the company as a free agent and signed with the Dolphins.

CeeDee Lamb is now the team’s undisputed #1 in both title and production. But whatever support he hoped to glean from returning team-mates and newcomers has suffered several hits as several players were out injured to start the preseason.

Expect growing pains for a young group, especially early on. Still, Lamb has established himself as one of the NFL’s elite receivers, while Dak Prescott (4,449 passing yards, 37 touchdowns in 2021) has shown no sign of slowing down since returning from the ankle injury that prematurely ended his 2020 season.

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Also, watch as the Cowboys continue to feed the ball to running back Ezekiel Elliott, whom owner Jerry Jones has clearly prioritized as an offensive linchpin (as evidenced by the team leaving Cooper and Wilson).

Here’s a breakdown of the Cowboys’ wide receiver depth map for 2022, starting with one sure thing in Lamb before turning to uncertainty:

The Cowboys WR depth chart

CeeDee Lamb-103121-GETTY-FTR

1. CeeDee Lamb

Lamb became the team’s leading receiver in 2021, edging out Cooper in just his second season. He commanded most objectives (120) and led the team in receptions (79) and shipyards (1,102). He finished third on the team in touchdowns (six).

That said, Dallas knew Lamb would be the WR1 of the future, making the decision to walk away from Cooper an easier one. Lamb played sizeable snaps from the slot in 2021 but should see more games as a flanker this season.

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The question now is whether the loss of Cooper and Wilson will affect how the defense covers the third-year receiver. To that end, he needs Michael Gallup and Jalen Tolbert to step up their game.

However, he will have to wait for Gallup to take some pressure off him.

2.Michael Gallup

Gallup, when healthy, was the team’s No. 3 receiver behind Cooper and Lamb last season, and he should have jumped straight to second this season.

Unfortunately for the fifth-year receiver, the injury error that plagued him in 2021 has dogged him into 2022: after missing weeks 2-8 on injured reserve with a calf injury, he suffered in the team’s Week 17 loss torn a cruciate ligament after an impressive touchdown grab against the Cardinals.

He’s still rehabilitating from that injury and will be out for at least the team’s Week 1 game against the Bucs.

Gallup has been the Cowboys’ biggest threat of late, as evidenced by his production of 35 catches, 445 yards and two touchdowns during the 2021 season, which was shortened by injuries. Dallas clearly ranks Gallup as potential option #2; It signed him to a five-year, $62.5 million deal during the offseason, though he’s still in rehab.

Expect him to make a big contribution after returning from injury.

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3.Jalen Tolbert

Tolbert had 146 receptions, 2,559 yards and 16 touchdowns in his last two seasons in South Alabama. The 6-1, 195-pound rookie also recorded a respectable 4.49 40-yard dash at the 2022 NFL Combine, suggesting he has the physical tools to make an immediate contribution.

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With Gallup and James Washington injured (more on that in a moment), Tolbert has a real shot at filling in as the team’s No. 2 receiver early in the season.

With the US, he had limited exposure to NFL talent, but he showed himself against his biggest competition. He cooked Tennessee for 143 yards and a score on seven catches in 2021.

Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones has expressed his confidence in the young receiver, seeing injuries at Gallup and Washington as an opportunity for the rookie.

“Let’s give these young people the incentive, our young recipients. We kept a lot of them when we came out,” Jones said (via ESPN). “We’re being (Washington) rehabilitated … But we don’t feel urgent about adding an experienced receiver. We like these young people.”

4.JamesWashington

Washington, who won the 2017 Biletnikoff Award for college football’s top wide receiver, didn’t live up to his bill in the NFL. The Steelers gave free rein to their 2018 second-round pick after the 2021 season. Dallas signed him to a one-year, $1.1 million deal the same week Cooper was traded.

However, what plans the Cowboys had for Washington must be put on hold: He will be out for six to ten weeks because he fractured his foot on the first day of training with a full ball of foot.

At best, he’s only on the road for the Cowboys’ season opener against the Buccaneers. Otherwise, he could be out of the team’s first five games. When he returns, Dallas will hope to return to his sophomore form when he rushed for 735 yards and three touchdowns on 44 catches.

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5. Noah Brown

Like many of his peers further down the depth chart, Brown will have a more significant role in 2022, having previously played in limited capacity. The Cowboys re-signed him in March for a one-year extension worth $1.2 million.

To date, Brown has 39 receptions for 425 yards and no touchdowns in four years with the Cowboys. He hasn’t often been used as a target in the field, but his familiarity with Coordinator Kellen Moore’s plan makes him a viable target.

The Cowboys will need him to be more productive in 2022, especially if Gallup and Washington are out early.

6. Dennis Houston

Houston was a surprise at training camp. Lamb praised the undrafted rookie’s route running skills.

“How smooth he gets in and out of his breaks,” Lamb said of Houston (via The Athletic). “His releases are A-1. The fact that he already has that, just short of his ability, can only be added.

Houston enjoyed the best season of his career with Western Illinois, where he rushed for 1,015 yards and six touchdowns in 90 receptions as a senior. Much of his production at WIU came after the catch, so look to Moore for opportunities to turn short stretches into long wins.

Houston’s place on the depth chart will depend in part on how well he adjusts to playing against NFL-level talent.

7. KaVontae Turpin

Dallas signed the 2022 USFL MVP on July 29. Turpin led the league in several categories, including receiving yards (540), yards after catch (316), punt return yards (184), and punt return average (15.3 yards). ).

Turpin was also a prolific return man at TCU, where he hit 123 punt and kick returns for 2,726 return yards and six touchdowns over four seasons. The Cowboys will look to Turpin primarily as a returnee, but his ability to play with the ball in his hands could make him a potential receiving option.

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