Position series: Cowboys wide receivers

June, 4, 2012
6/04/12
12:31
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We continue our position-by-position analysis of the teams in the NFC East with a look at the Dallas Cowboys' wide receivers.

Projected starters: Miles Austin, Dez Bryant

Reserves: Kevin Ogletree, Dwayne Harris, Andre Holmes, Raymond Radway, Danny Coale

[+] EnlargeDez Bryant
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireDez Bryant has shown potential during his first two seasons but has yet to breakout.
Potential strength: As I wrote earlier Monday about the Eagles, the Cowboys' strength at wide receiver is that their starters have the potential to be among the very best in the league. Austin struggled with hamstring injuries last year, and Bryant is a third-year player whose first two years have seen plenty of understandable development issues. But if Austin can stay healthy, and if you buy into the old theory about third-year wide receivers taking big steps forward, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo could be picking between two of the best receivers in the NFL on any given play.

Potential weakness: There has been plenty of concern expressed about that No. 3 receiver spot, which was filled so surprisingly ably by Laurent Robinson last year. Unless they find a veteran in the bargain bin as they did last season with Robinson, the Cowboys are going to let the guys on their roster fight it out for that spot. It's a pretty uninspiring group, but Ogletree is probably the favorite as he's the most experienced of the bunch. Harris has earned good reviews for his work in the slot during organized team activities but has struggled on special teams, and that's going to be a factor as well in determining who gets the final wide receiver spots. Coale was an intriguing possibility as a late-round draft pick, but an injury is going to keep him out for most of the offseason program and he may need a year to develop at the NFL level before he can be a reliable No. 3 wide receiver.

Keep an eye on: Holmes. He seems to be a favorite of Jerry Jones' when Jones speaks publicly about the No. 3 wide receiver situation. He was a scout teamer last year and was an undrafted player out of college, but Jones has a soft spot for those and so, likely, does Romo, who was undrafted himself. Again, if a guy like Holmes can make an impression on special teams, he could put himself in position to get more of an opportunity to show what he can do in the offense. And opportunity may be the only thing one of these guys needs to break through and offer more than is expected of them. If no one does, the Cowboys likely just lean harder on tight end Jason Witten as a No. 3 receiver -- something that would be even easier to do if Austin and Bryant play to the top of their abilities.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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