With Julio Jones heading for the Super Bowl, a spot opened up in this Sunday's NFL Pro Bowl. Dez Bryant has been named an alternate at wide receiver for the NFC team, his third career Pro Bowl appearance.
Bryant joins Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, and Sean Lee as the Dallas Cowboys now have seven players in Sunday's exhibition. Dez and Lee are alternates and the other five were original selections.
Based on his 2016 numbers, Dez Bryant should count himself lucky to have been named an alternate. He missed three games due to injury and barely played in Week 17 as the Cowboys rested their starters before the playoffs. Dez only had 50 catches for 796 yards and eight touchdowns in the regular season.
Even if you take the average and calculate his production over a full 16 games, Dez would've had just 67 catches and 1061 yards. Those numbers would've had him tied for 23rd in catches and 10th in yards just in the NFC alone. The saving grace would have been touchdowns, where 11 scores would've had him fourth-best in the conference.
One factor in Dez's favor was having to find chemistry with rookie Dak Prescott. After only becoming the starter after the third week of the preseason, Prescott had to learn on the fly and the other starters had to adjust to him. Bryant's improved numbers through the later part of the season, and especially in the Cowboys' playoff game, suggest he could've been much more productive without the learning curve.
Nevertheless, Bryant still made it to the Pro Bowl. It speaks to the power of Cowboys Nation as a voting group and the respect he still commands in the league.