If AZ goes WR in round 1, CeeDee Lamb shouldn't be the one picked

Arkansas v Alabama

CeeDee Lamb has received more local attention in Arizona than any prospect leading up to this year's NFL draft, and there's a good reason for that. Lamb and Kyler Murray were college teammates in 2018 during Murray's Heisman campaign. Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said he's received flattering texts about Lamb from his second-year quarterback. Albert Breer reported that the cajoling hasn't stopped in his latest MMQB. Lamb himself even talked about how much he'd like to join his old quarterback in an Instagram Live interview last week.

But the best story hardly ever makes for the best outcome. If the Cardinals do take a wide receiver with the number 8 pick, CeeDee Lamb shouldn't be the one. A month ago - before Steve Keim traded for DeAndre Hopkins - maybe, but not anymore.

Why? Because CeeDee Lamb is DeAndre Hopkins, and the Cardinals now need speed more than jump-ball ability.

"I do think the DeAndre Hopkins comparison make sense, and Hopkins is a 4.57 guy, and CeeDee Lamb is a 4.51 type of athlete... You know I think he's a little quicker, a little faster, I think he can do a little bit more after the catch," NFL draft analyst Dane Brugler said on my show last week.

The Cardinals's wide receiving core consists of a 36-year-old Larry Fitzgerald, who's dependent on body position and route-running more than declining speed, Christian Kirk, who runs a 4.47, and DeAndre Hopkins, who runs in the mid 4.5s.

"When you isolate his traits... He's not a fast receiver," NFL film analyst Andy Benoit said on Fox Sports 910 last week. "He's not a fast receiver - he's got below average speed. He's not particularly quick. He's not a particularly precise route-runner. And, yet, he is unquestionably one of the very best receivers in the NFL."

The Cardinals wide receiving core has plenty of good hands, plenty of route-running acumen and plenty of toughness. It's severely lacking speed. CeeDee Lamb, who runs a 4.51 40-time, isn't the burner they need.

Henry Ruggs, on the other hand, runs a 4.27 40-time, and is considered overwhelmingly to be a 1st-round talent. He's the guy the Cardinals should be honing in on, if they're convinced they need to take a wide receiver. He wasn't as productive as CeeDee Lamb in college, but he provides what the Cardinals are missing, and what Andy Isabella failed to produce in 2019.

Cardinals fans, meet your new Tyreek Hill. Or, more fittingly, Will Fuller, the speedster in Houston who helped elevate Texans offenses to heights DeAndre Hopkins couldn't bring them to alone.

Sarah Barshop, who covers the Texans for ESPN, reported that the Texans averaged 138 more passing yards in their 11 games with Will Fuller on the field than without him in 2019. DeAndre Hopkins played in all but one game Fuller missed. So, even when DeAndre Hopkins is your No. 1 receiver, having speed opposite him is vital.

CeeDee Lamb is the best story, which explains why Cardinals fans know so much about him. I'm sure Kyler Murray, his college buddy, is convinced Lamb is the best fit as well. The media certainly loves the narrative.

It'll be up to Steve Keim to dive into the numbers, evaluate his offense objectively, and make a decision based on what the team needs, not what his 2nd-year quarterback wants. Stories sell, speed kills.

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