Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Dallas Cowboys [Print without images]

Sunday, April 11, 2010
Cowboys draft preview: Dez Bryant

By Tim MacMahon



ESPNDallas.com will look at a potential Cowboys pick each weekday leading up to the draft.

DEZ BRYANT

School: Oklahoma State
Position: Wide receiver
Scouts Inc. rank: No. 1 at position, No. 12 overall (scouting report)

POSITIVES
Dez Bryant
Dez Bryant is a potential gamebreaker as a receiver and punt returner, but he ran into trouble while at Oklahoma State.
He’s a potential gamebreaker as a receiver and punt returner. He has great strength and incredible burst for his size. He attacks the ball in the air, and his outstanding leaping ability and amazing body control allow him to make acrobatic catches in traffic. He has a rare ability to make people miss and break tackles, making him extremely dangerous after the catch. He doesn’t have blazing speed, but he can create separation from defensive backs. He’s not afraid to make tough catches over the middle.

NEGATIVES
There are serious concerns about whether Bryant, who had an extremely difficult childhood, is mature enough to succeed in the NFL. He was suspended for the final 10 games last season for lying to NCAA investigators inquiring about his relationship with Deion Sanders. The bigger concerns are his problems with such simple things as being on time. His work ethic has also been questioned. He tends to take plays off when he isn’t the primary option and can be lazy with his route-running.

COWBOY FIT
Bryant is one of the biggest wild cards in the draft. In the unlikely scenario that he slips to No. 27, Jerry Jones has to decide whether it’s worth taking a risk on a receiver who oozes Pro Bowl potential. If Jones likes Bryant enough, he could entertain the possibility of trading up to the late teens to get him. Bryant and Miles Austin would form one of the biggest, most athletic receiver tandems in the league for years if Bryant pans out. He’d be an immediate upgrade as a punt returner and should be able to contribute at least in three-receiver packages as a rookie.

OKLAHOMA STATE WR COACH GUNTER BREWER
“He can be a game-changer. He’s a guy that’s big and physical. He may not have the 4.4 or 4.3 speed that people seem to think you need, but he’s a big guy like Larry Fitzgerald that doesn’t seem to get caught. A lot of those corners are 5-9, 5-10 and 180 pounds. They might be faster than him, but they have a real hard time covering him. ... He’s the best at everything that has to do with going up and getting the ball in the air. He’s better than Randy [Moss, who Brewer coached at Marshall] at the fade. He’s just got an amazing feel at getting to the ball in the air. He can tweak his body and get to it, and he’ s so strong. His vertical and ability to play is the in the air is tremendous. ... People are concerned about his speed [as a punt returner], but he’s so strong that people fall off of him and he has the ability to make people miss. He has that quick-twitch ability to get going fast. And he’s fearless to catch the ball. ... I don’t think he has a character issue at all. It’s a time-management and life skills issue. He comes from a terrible background, but he’s never been in any [legal] trouble. ... Saying he’s a pathological liar, that’s not true. The only time he lied was when he got scared by the NCAA about losing his [college] career, which ended up happening. Nine out of 10 guys in that situation would probably have done the same thing. ... It’s going to be important wherever he goes for the receivers coach and offensive people to get to know him as a person and not just as a piece of meat. He’s a kid who has a good heart and wants to learn the game. He’s going to need some attention as far as the life skills part of it.”