Dez Bryant turning into best receiver of his class

February, 19, 2013
2/19/13
11:45
AM ET
There were 31 wide receivers taken in the 2010 NFL draft, with the Cowboys moving up to select Dez Bryant out of Oklahoma State with the 24th pick. Looking at the receivers taken in that class and how they've produced, Bryant is emerging as the best of the bunch.

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In three seasons, Bryant leads all the receivers in his class in yards (2,871), catches (200) and touchdowns (27). Denver's Demaryius Thomas is closest to him in yards with 2,268 and Tampa Bay's Mike Williams is closest in touchdowns with 23.

The Steelers' Antonio Brown (2,062 yards and seven touchdowns) has also shown himself to be a dynamic receiverk, and of course you can see the talent in Seattle's Golden Tate (1,297 yards and 10 touchdowns). But Bryant's big-play ability, given his increasing understanding of the offense, is making him the cream of the crop.

In terms of becoming one of the best receivers in the game, he's still needs more seasoning before he's mentioned with Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Brandon Marshall.

However, defenses are trying to take him out of game and forcing Tony Romo to find other targets. Bryant didn't get as many balls thrown his way as he could have because he was often double-teamed with a safety and a cornerback. Against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bryant had a linebacker drop underneath him in coverage.

Former wide receivers coach Ray Sherman called Bryant a freak in terms of his abilities. Bryant has the best hands on the team and is the most physical receiver of the group. Miles Austin is probably more polished because he's played longer, but when it comes time to make big plays, or important plays, Bryant has emerged as a favorite of Romo.

Bryant finished the 2012 season in a three-way tie among receivers for the league lead with five fourth-quarter touchdowns. Minnesota's Kyle Rudolph and Marshall also had five fourth-quarter touchdowns.

If the Cowboys can depend on Bryant long term they have an outstanding talent that can become the focal point of the offense.
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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