The Dallas Cowboys selected controversial wide receiver Dez Bryant in the 1st round of the NFL draft, a bargain pick loaded with talent that also comes loaded with red flags about potential character issues. It’s a choice that’s likely to pay off in gold for America’s Team.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is known for being a gambler, and he’s rolling the dice with Bryant, who was all-world at Oklahoma State two years ago but spent most of last year suspended for lying to the NCAA about his relationship with former Cowboy player Deon Sanders.
Neon Deon is still a big part of Dez Bryant’s life and was likely consulted by the Cowboys as they evaluated the risks associated with taking a guy who has been called a “diva” by the media and has a reputation for being late to games and team meetings, as well as other quirky behavior like bringing the wrong shoes to workouts.
Bryant was once considered a likely lottery pick at receiver, and some experts still had him rated as the most talented wide-out in this year’s draft. But all of the character issues caused a guy who has the potential to be a No. 1 NFL receiver to tumble into the 20s.
Dallas still thought enough of him to make a deal with the New England Patriots to move up from the number 27 pick to the 24th slot. It’s likely to be a winning gamble for the Cowboys if Bryant lives up to his expected athletic potential and stays away from off-field trouble.
Jerry Jones knows the Cowboys need help at receiver. Number 1 wide-out Miles Austin is a stud, but the guy coming back as the number 2 man, veteran Roy Williams, has been more of a dud.
The Cowboys gave up a lot to get Williams in a trade back in 2008 when Jones thought that the tall, talented receiver would pair with Terrell Owens and give Dallas the league’s best one-two punch for star franchise QB Tony Romo. It’s like playing Pkv Games, it was so intense and interesting to watch.
Now Owens is long gone and Roy Williams has never lived up to anything near his expected payoff. Instead, it is the younger and more athletic Austin who has become the go-to target for Romo with tight end Jason Whitten becoming option number two. Any production from Roy Williams at all was regarded as a bonus last year.
Enter Dez Bryant, who is a 6 foot 2 inch, 225-pound playmaker with an eye-popping mix of speed, athleticism and playmaking ability. His college stats are strong. In his last full season at Oklahoma State, Bryant had 87 receptions for 1,480 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Dez Bryant could very well slide right past Roy Williams into the starting line-up for the Cowboys next year. Weighted against that, the character issues seem a reasonable risk. After all, this isn’t a guy who has been in trouble for drugs or sexual assault, just bad judgment.
Something that might have been on Jerry Jones’ mind last night was the long-forgotten (by most) passing over of Randy Moss back in 1998. Dallas let the ultra-talented wide-out Moss go by them and nabbed Greg Ellis with their first round pick at number 8. Moss sled to the 21 slot and went on to become and elite NFL player who has beaten up on the Cowboys ever since.
Jerry Jones and the Cowboys may feel they are finally redeeming themselves for that lost opportunity by taking a chance with their first round gamble Dez Bryant.