Dallas Cowboys: Demaryius Thomas

Dez Bryant at top of Class of '15 WRs

June, 13, 2014
Jun 13
IRVING, Texas -- ESPN Insider Mike Sando has a piece up on the loaded 2015 class of potential free-agent wide receivers, and the Dallas Cowboys' Dez Bryant leads the list.

Sando had help from two NFL general managers, an offensive assistant and a defensive coordinator. If you want to read the full story, you have to be an Insider Insider, but Bryant ranked ahead of guys such as Demaryius Thomas, Michael Crabtree and Jordy Nelson.

There are six receivers in the NFL earning more than $11 million per season. Does Bryant join that list with Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Percy Harvin, Mike Wallace, Dwayne Bowe and Vincent Jackson? Do we need to point out the new deal DeSean Jackson signed with the Washington Redskins is with $8 million annually?

Here’s what Sando wrote about Bryant:
Bryant lined up on the perimeter for 89.1 percent of his routes last season, the highest percentage for any player on this list. Versatility is great and teams certainly feature players from the slot, but being labeled as a "slot guy" isn't the best thing for a player's value in evaluators' eyes. "It's such a difference when you have outside guys that can stretch the field," a veteran assistant coach said.

Bryant, who turns 26 in November, accounted for 29.2 percent of the Cowboys' receiving yards last season. That was the highest percentage for any player on the list. He also accounted for 39.4 percent of his team's receiving touchdowns, by far the highest for any player on this list and the third highest for any wide receiver, behind Fitzgerald (41.4 percent) and Megatron (39.4).

"You'd better pay Dez Bryant," one of the GMs said. "Jerry Jones had better pay him. The antics you see, that is raw emotion, his competitive flair coming out."

Another GM expressed some concern about paying Bryant top dollar based on Bryant's overall makeup, but both GMs ranked Bryant first on their list, as did the defensive coordinator. "Teams will bid on Bryant," a third GM said, "but not all the teams will be in on that, because of his personality."

Bryant is set to make $1.78 million on the final year of his rookie contract. He doesn’t want to leave. The Cowboys don’t want him to leave. How they reach an agreement will be interesting. Bryant did not dismiss the idea of a hometown discount in this story from Tim MacMahon last month. I’ve written that the structure will matter most.

There is always the possibility of the franchise tag.

But I will ask this question: When was the last time the Cowboys lost somebody they wanted to keep?

Cowboys view Jimmy Graham as wideout

November, 8, 2013
IRVING, Texas -- At 6-foot-7, 265 pounds, the New Orleans Saints list Jimmy Graham as a tight end.

That doesn’t mean the Dallas Cowboys view Graham as one.

“He’s a wide receiver for sure,” safety Barry Church said. “That’s what we’re going to treat him as in this game.”

Graham leads the Saints with 49 catches for 746 yards and his 10 touchdowns lead the NFL. On Oct. 13, the New England Patriots were able to hold him without a catch by putting cornerback Aqib Talib on him all over the field.

The Cowboys have had cornerback Brandon Carr follow some of their opponents’ top receivers all over the field. The last time was Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who had 329 receiving yards, but Carr helped limit Demaryius Thomas, Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson.

Will the Cowboys be as extreme as New England? Maybe not. Sean Lee said it will be a team defense on Graham.

“I think in a lot of areas we’re going to have to make sure we know where he is on the field and whoever is on him will know, hey, the ball could be coming your way at any point,” Lee said. “And he’s a guy even if you’re on him, Drew Brees can put it in places and he can go to where, hey, he’s covered but he’s not covered.”

Technically Graham is a tight end and other tight ends have given the Cowboys trouble. San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates caught 10 passes for 136 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown. Denver’s Julius Thomas caught nine passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns. Brandon Myers of the New York Giants had seven catches for 66 yards and a touchdown in the season opener. In last week’s game against the Minnesota Vikings, Kyle Rudolph had a 31-yard touchdown catch.

“Against elite quarterbacks we weren’t that good and against pretty good tight ends, they’ve been able to hurt us in the past,” Church said. “Hopefully the game plan we do have set up will switch that around and we’ll have a better day.”

Cowboys' Brandon Carr in a stopper role

October, 23, 2013
IRVING, Texas -- Brandon Carr has made his bones the last three games matching up nearly all of the time against Demaryius Thomas, Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson.

None of them reached the end zone against the Cowboys, despite being their quarterback’s big-play receiver, go-to receiver or speed threat.

A lot of credit goes to Carr, who has play has improved with the more man coverage he has played.

But why isn’t it just a given that he follows the No. 1 receiver all the time? They play box-and-1 defenses in basketball.

Jason Garrett offers up the reason:

“Because you don’t play man-to-man coverage every snap, so if you don’t play man-to-man coverage every snap and you play zone and you move guys around, it’s a great indicator to you as an offensive player that they’re playing man,” Garrett said. “If he follows him all over the place then it’s probably man. Then you have to get into the realm of ‘OK, we’ll move him over and then we’re going to play zone from that look.’ Well, he hasn’t done that very much. If they move the guy around, it presents some problems. So it has to be a really viable, viable receiver on the other side, a guy who is really threatening you to do that, then you have to deal with some of the other things that go with it.”

So is Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions a viable threat?

“That’s a fantastic question,” Garrett said, smiling and well aware that Johnson is as elite as they come in the NFL.

And look for Carr to follow Johnson all over Ford Field on Sunday.
Dez Bryant finished sixth in the NFL in receiving yards last season. Imagine where he would've finished if the Dallas Cowboys hadn't ignored him in the first quarter.

Bryant caught just nine passes for 104 yards in the first quarter last season. For a guy who finished with 93 receptions for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns, that's a joke.

Detroit's Calvin Johnson caught 24 first quarter passes, and Houston's Andre Johnson caught 31. Chicago's Brandon Marshall caught 21 first-quarter passes and Denver's Demaryius Thomas had 24. Even Tampa Bay's Vincent Jackson had 15 catches in the first quarter.

Those are the only receivers with more yards than Bryant last season.

See the trend? All but Jackson were offensive focal points in the first quarter. Bryant is the Cowboys' most dynamic offensive player, so the Cowboys need to make it a priority to get him the ball.

And they need to get it to him in the first quarter, if for no other reason than he will create opportunities for others with the coverage he draws.

Coach Jason Garrett loves to spread the ball around and take what the defense gives him. Let's hope Bill Callahan is more persistent in getting his best player the ball.
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.

Ben and Skin discuss the hypothetical idea of trading Tony Romo, as outrageous as it sounds, and what impact it would have.

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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.
Georgia Tech wide receiver, junior Demaryius Thomas will have a personal Pro Day on Sunday.

Thomas missed the National Scouting Combine because of a broken foot, that same injury kept him out of Tech's Pro Day.

The Cowboys are interested in Thomas and projects him as a second day draft pick.

Drafting a wide receiver in first round

March, 19, 2010
There is speculation regarding what the Cowboys will do in the first round of the draft.

Drafting a wide receiver in the first round appears doubtful, seeing the Cowboys haven't done it since they took Alvin Harper in the 1991 draft, as the 12th overall selection. (That same year, the Cowboys took Russell Maryland, No. 1 overall.)Dez Bryant, according to his agent, Eugene Parker, will visit Valley Ranch on April 1. Now this doesn't mean the Cowboys will draft him in the first round. Bryant is projected as the first wideout taken in 2010. But taking a wide receiver in the first round has its issues.

"On wide receivers there are more busts in the first round than the majority of other positions," ESPN's Todd McShay said. "That’s reason No. 1. Reason No. 2 is almost more important to me, is that it is not one of the positions of value. If you’re drafting in the first round, especially high in the first round, when the money is so overwhelming and can cripple you if you make a mistake. Or even if you get a solid player in a position that’s not one of ‘the big fours’ as I like to call it, I really think it can set your organization back."

Jerry Jones doesn't like to do it for financial reasons, we understand that. Why kick out big money to a wide receiver when you can't get a return on it until three or maybe four years down the line.

Now this not to say the Cowboys are not interested in drafting a wide receiver. Arrelious Benn, Demaryius Thomas and Carlton Mitchell are some of the names being thrown out among agents that the Cowboys are targeting.

Will it happen in the later rounds of the draft? Stay tuned.
Jerry Jones has this deal about using a high-draft pick on a wide receiver.

He doesn't like it because too much money would get spent on a wide receiver who can't develop until three or maybe four years down the line.

That's just the way he sees it.

But that could change, slightly. Now, I don't believe the Cowboys will use a first round pick or even second round pick on a wide receiver. The third round might be a spot where the Cowboys expend a draft pick on a wide receiver.

A trio of juniors, Illinois' Arrelious Benn, Georgia Tech's Demaryius Thomas and Carlton Mitchell from South Florida have talked to Cowboys officials the last few weeks.
It seems as if the Cowboys have more success in signing wide receivers instead of drafting or trading for them, look at Miles Austin and Roy Williams as the latest example of this.

The last time Dallas drafted a wide receiver was last year, Manuel Johnson in the seventh round, and he didn't see the field. He was on the practice squad. Before that, 2007, Isaiah Stanback, a quarterback at Washington, was converted to wideout and he struggled with injuries in his brief time with the Cowboys.

In 2006, Dallas drafted Skyler Green in the fourth round, but he didn't stick around long because the team never found a real spot for him on the oster.

In 2004, Patrick Crayton was a seventh-round pick out of Northwest Oklahoma, and guess what, he's still around.