The best receiver in the 2010 NFL Draft, Dez Bryant surprisingly slid down the board on draft night. The Broncos passed on him at #22 overall in favor of Demaryius Thomas, and two picks later the Dallas Cowboys saw an opportunity to add their new #88.
With the New England Patriots on the clock, Jerry Jones and the Cowboys traded up for their pick to select Bryant at #24.
Let’s continue the “Cowboys on the Clock” series by taking a look at Bryant’s career so far in Dallas.
Bryant was electrifying in his rookie season, as the dynamic target out of Oklahoma State caught six touchdown passes and returned a punt 93 yards for a score in a prime time Monday night game vs. the Giants at home.
The following year, with Roy Williams gone, Bryant easily took over the starting job – and would start all but three games across from Miles Austin. He would nearly double his yardage total from 2010, finishing the season with 928 yards and 9 scores.
Bryant would continue to improve in 2012, as he finished third in the NFL in receiving touchdowns, throwing up the X twelve times while going for a career high 1,382 yards.
Dez would be named to his first Pro Bowl following the 2013 season, where he once again ranked third in receiving TDs with 13. This surpassed his 2012 total as a new career high.
Although it was clear that Bryant and Romo had something special, the team missed the playoffs for the fourth straight year. It was not until 2014, with a dominant ground game provided by DeMarco Murray, that Bryant was able to thrive once again while helping this team make the playoffs for the first time in his career.
In his contract year, Bryant broke the Cowboys single season TD record. Thriving off of defenses that keyed in on Murray, Bryant would have his signature game late in the season during a Sunday night game in Philadelphia.
Romo and Bryant connected for three scores, as the Cowboys won a close game 38-27. It was a pivotal win for their NFC East chances, and Dallas clinched the division with a week 16 throbbing of the Colts at home.
Bryant would then face the Lions in his first ever playoff game from AT&T Stadium, and see double teams for most of the day. This allowed other play makers like Terrance Williams to have big days, as T-Will went for 2 scores on just three receptions.
Of course, his most important catch came in the back of the end zone late in the fourth quarter, as Romo found Williams for the game-winning score that sent Dallas to Green Bay for the Divisional Playoffs.
In gut wrenching fashion, Dez Bryant would have a chance to make his signature moment late in the fourth, this time on a fourth and short play in the red zone. Channeling his inner Michael Irvin and Drew Pearson, Bryant went up to catch a lob from Romo over Sam Shields.
He then proceeded to fight for every inch towards the goal line, as the ball moved within his arms while extending for the touchdown. The play would go to review, and Bryant was robbed of the reception thanks to that bobble.
Romo and the Cowboys were eliminated from the playoffs, and Bryant looked ahead to free agency. The “Dezline” as it began to be called got closer and closer, as the two sides failed to reach a deal deep into the summer.
Finally, on July 15th, the two sides reached a 5 year deal that would keep Bryant in Dallas. With expectations higher than ever, the first year of Bryant’s deal would be a total failure, as he was injured throughout the season.
When he was on the field, never at 100%, Bryant couldn’t get anything going – being thrown to by the likes of Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel.
Bryant, for his career, has lived up to his draft expectations. Outside of Antonio Brown, he is far and away the second best WR taken in 2010 when it comes to receptions and yards. He also has 59 touchdowns, which is the most out of that draft class since 2010. Eric Decker, in second place, has caught 50 touchdowns.
With that said, Cowboys Nation should be very excited to see Bryant and Romo try to return to their 2014 form this upcoming season.
You can also get excited for tomorrow’s installment of Cowboys on the Clock, as we’ll look at 1994 first round pick Shante Carver. First, let’s take a quick look at the other players Dallas has selected with the 24th overall pick in their history:
Calvin Hill, 1969, RB
Hill was the first player to ever be drafted in the first round out of the Ivy League, as he had a successful athletic career in both football and track at Yale. Although he was constantly injured throughout his time as a Cowboy, Hill made four Pro Bowls during his five seasons with the team – including one in his rookie year. He won Super Bowl VI with the team.
Robert Jones, 1992, LB
The 1992 NFL Rookie of the Year, Jones was a key part of the Cowboys league-leading defense. That Dallas team would go on to win the Super Bowl, and Jones would end his career in Dallas after four years with three Super Bowl titles.
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