- Tim MacMahon, ESPNDallas.com
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They were even more overwhelmed by Bryant’s talent than they anticipated once he started working out at Valley Ranch.
“So you sit there and you say, 'Boy, it seems if he could put it all together that he should be one of the dominant receivers and top two or three receivers in the NFL,’” executive vice president Stephen Jones said during his appearance on ESPN Dallas 103.3’s Ben and Skin Show this week.
Bryant has been pretty good, finishing tied for sixth in the NFL with nine touchdown catches and 30th with 928 yards last season. But that’s not nearly good enough to live up to expectations.
The hope is that Bryant will have a breakout campaign in his third season, becoming the kind of consistent, electrifying playmaker the Cowboys envisioned when they traded up to take him in the 2010 first round.
That means bumping two-time Pro Bowler Miles Austin down a peg in the pecking order of the Cowboys’ receivers.
“Well, I think he needs to be a No. 1 receiver,” Jones said of Bryant. “Not to take anything away from Miles, but I would submit to you that when we line up out there that the guy that they’re the most worried about is Dez. And he’s got to be that guy, and even when they do try to stop him, the great ones still make a lot of plays.
“Tony (Romo has) got to be able to count on him. He’s got to run the right routes at the right depths and be a precise route runner. Those are the things he’s got to improve on. If he can do those things, then obviously we can really achieve what we want to accomplish, which is win a championship.”
The Cowboys basically labeled Dez Bryant as the franchise’s next great receiver the day they drafted him, assigning him the No. 88 worn by Drew Pearson and Michael Irvin.