#88 Dez Bryant
Desmond Demond “Dez” Bryant was born in Galveston County, Texas on November 4, 1988. He played collegiately at Oklahoma State University. He is currently a wide receiver in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys, who drafted him in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
Dez Bryant was born in Galveston County, Texas, but eventually moved to Lufkin, Texas, where he attended Lufkin High School. He excelled in both football and track and field during his high school career.
Bryant was one of the top performers in the entire state of Texas at triple jump with a career-best leap of 14.17m. He also excelled in the 110 and 300m hurdles. His best time in the 110m hurdle was 14.56 seconds and his best time the 300m hurdle was 40.70 seconds. Dez Bryant was also a member of the 4 x 100m relay team running a time of 40.62 seconds and the 4 x 200m relay running a time of 1:28.35.
Although he was a top performer in track and field events, he really made a name for himself on the football field during his time at Lufkin High School.
As a junior, he caught 48 passes for 1,025 yards and scored 16 touchdowns. He helped lead Lufkin to a 14-1 record, but eventually ended up losing to Southlake Carroll in the 5A Division II state semifinals 46-28.
In his senior year, Dez Bryant caught 53 passes for 1,207 yards and scored 21 touchdowns. He once again helped lead his team to a winning record of 11-1, but lost to Round Rock in the area round of the playoffs. He was an All-State selection and was also named All-American by Parade and SuperPrep. After the season, he participated in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl.
Dez Bryant was regarded as a four-star recruit by Rivals.com and was listed as the #9 wide receiver prospect in the class of 2007. He was the second best rated receiver behind only Terrence Tolliver in the state of Texas. He was recruited by numerous collegiate programs and took official visits to Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech, before ultimately deciding on Oklahoma State.
Dez Bryant attended Oklahoma State University from 2007 to 2009.
As a freshman, Dez Bryant played in 12 games and caught 43 receptions for 622 receiving yards and scored six touchdowns, finishing second on the team. He set a freshman record for receiving yards (155) in a game against the University of Kansas. He was also named second-team Freshman All-American.
In 2008, Dez Bryant finished the year with 87 receptions for 1,480 receiving yards and scored 19 touchdowns, including two punt returns for TDs. He earned All-American first-team honors from numerous outlets, joining running back Kendall Hunter as the first OSU sophomore position player to receive the national recognition since Thurman Thomas in 1985.
Dez Bryant was also a first-team All-Big 12 choice and finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s top wide receiver. This was in large part due to the fact he led the conference in receiving yards per game (113.9), scoring (9.7-tied for second in the nation), touchdown receptions (19), and punt return average (18.0).
As a junior, Dez Bryant was a consensus All-American, All-Big Conference first-team selection, member of the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, Maxwell Award and Biletnikoff Award Watch Lists in his final collegiate season in 2009.
He played only three games in 2009 after he was ruled ineligible the rest of the season for violating NCAA bylaw. He didn’t fully disclose his interaction with Deion Sanders, which was the reason for his NCAA violation. He was considered a possible Heisman candidate prior to his suspension.
Despite only playing three games, Bryant still finished third on the team with 17 catches for 323 yards and four touchdowns. He also had 111 yards on punt returns, including an 82 yarder that he returned for a touchdown. He finished the season with 477 all-purpose yards.
2010 NFL Draft
Dez Bryant declared he would enter the 2010 NFL Draft on November 5, 2009. He was widely regarded as the best wide receiver in the draft class but his draft stock took a hit due to character concerns.
The Dallas Cowboys held the 27th overall draft pick, but ended up trading with the New England Patriots to select Dez Bryant with the 24th overall pick. To trade up three spots, the Dallas Cowboys sent their third round draft pick (90th overall) and received the Patriots fourth round draft pick (119th overall) in return.
The Dallas Cowboys officially signed Dez Bryant to his rookie contract on July 22, 2010. The following day, on July 23, 2010 it was announced that Dez Bryant would wear number 88, the same jersey number that Hall of Famer Michael Irvin and Cowboys legend Drew Pearson wore during their playing days.
Dez Bryant’s first official touchdown in the NFL came on a 31-yard pass from quarterback Tony Romo on October 17, 2010. His rookie season was officially cut short when he had to be placed on injured reserve after fracturing his ankle returning a kickoff against the Indianapolis Colts.
He finished his rookie season with 45 catches for 561 yards and six receiving touchdowns. He also returned two punts for touchdowns, including a 93 yarder, averaged 14.3 yards per punt return and 24.4 yards per kickoff return.
In 2011, Dez Bryant would start opposite Miles Austin after the Cowboys decided to part ways with Roy Williams. In the first game of the season, against the New York Jets, he had three receptions for 71 yards and scored a touchdown, but he suffered a thigh bruise that would cause him to miss the next game against the San Francisco 49ers. He finished his second season in the NFL with 63 catches for 928 yards and nine touchdowns.
In 2012, Dez Bryant enjoyed the best season of his career thus far in the NFL. He finished the season with 92 receptions for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns; these ranked 10th, sixth, and third, among all wide receivers.
He did have to play through several injuries in 2012. He injured his finger in early December, but opted to play through the pain for the betterment of the team. He also had to leave the final game of the season against the Washington Redskins in the fourth quarter due to a back injury. The injury was so severe that he could barely walk.
In 2013, Dez Bryant had career highs in both receptions (93) and touchdowns (13). He also racked up 1,233 receiving yards. He finished eighth in the NFL in catches, 13th in yards, and third in touchdowns among all wide receivers. Based on his 2013 performance, Dez Bryant finally made his first Pro Bowl appearance.
In 2014, Dez Bryant decided to have his best season as a professional. It also happened to be his last year of his rookie contract. He finished the 2014 season with 88 catches for 1,320 yards and 16 touchdowns. His 16 receiving touchdowns set a franchise record previously held by Terrell Owens (15). He also made his second Pro Bowl and was chosen as a first-team All-Pro.
In 2014, Dez Bryant and the Dallas Cowboys would make the playoffs only to be knocked out in the divisional round by the Green Bay Packers. The Cowboys ended the 2014 season on a controversial catch in which Dez Bryant was involved. Initially, he was ruled as making the catch, which set the Cowboys up at the 1 yard line. The catch was challenged by Packers head coach, Mike McCarthy and was eventually overturned. The official ruling was that Bryant didn’t maintain possession of the ball all the way to the ground, thus not completing the catch.
On March 3, 2015, the Dallas Cowboys placed the nonexclusive franchise tag on Dez Bryant. It wasn’t until July 15 that Bryant and the Cowboys were able to reach a five-year $70 million contract extension.
In the first game of the season against the New York Giants, Dez Bryant left the game with a foot injury. X-rays later revealed that he had a stress fracture in his foot and that it would require surgery. The recovery time from the surgery was expected to be 4-6 weeks and he eventually returned in week 8 against the Seattle Seahawks.
Dez Bryant was never quite himself in the 2015 season and was limited to just nine games. He ended the season with just 31 receptions for 401 receiving yards and three touchdowns. After the season, he underwent foot and ankle surgeries on January 6, 2016.
The Dallas Cowboys signed Dez Bryant to a five-year $70 million contract with $32 million fully guaranteed on July 15, 2015. He will make an average of $14 million per season and his contract makes him the 6th highest paid of 382 wide receivers in the NFL.
- In 2016 his base salary is $9 million and his cap hit is $13 million
- In 2017 his base salary is $13 million and his cap hit is $17 million
- In 2018 his base salary is $12,500,000 and his cap hit is $16,500,000
- In 2019 his base salary is $12,500,000 and his cap hit is $16,500,000
It will be really interesting to see what the Dallas Cowboys decide to do with Dez Bryant once his contract expires.
Despite Going Undrafted, Kameron Kelly A Welcome Addition to Cowboys Secondary
The Dallas Cowboys best move of the offseason may very well be hiring Kris Richard as their new passing game coordinator. Despite not signing any free agents or drafting added talent for Richard to work with in the secondary, the Cowboys have plenty of reasons to feel great about their current starters - along with an intriguing class of UDFAs.
The prospects of Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, Byron Jones, and Xavier Woods working with Richard to sharpen their skills with Seattle's "Legion of Boom" fabricator is as good as it gets. In a very short period of time, the cornerback position has turned into one of the hardest spots for fringe players to make the Dallas Cowboys roster.
Don't tell this to San Diego State's Kameron Kelly. Neither Richard or Kelly may be household names around the NFL, but San Francisco 49ers Cornerback Richard Sherman certainly is. Sherman also happens to be the player the Cowboys are looking for Kelly -- an undrafted free agent that didn't receive a single college offer from "power five" schools -- to emulate.
Given all that Sherman meant to Richard's defenses since being drafted by his Seahawks in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, these feel like impossible expectations for Kelly to live up to.
The 6015 (6' 1 5/8") defender didn't even play the same position as Sherman until his final collegiate season, slowly making the transition from WR to DB at SDSU by starting as a Sophomore and Junior at safety.
Now just another player in a blue jersey with white numbers at The Star, Kelly is looking to earn the star on a team that may look to remain young, deep, and most importantly versatile in the secondary by keeping one or more UDFAs.
That is, if any of these long shot players deserve a spot on the final 53-man roster. Kelly already has an edge on this field, blessed with the length and daunting frame that allows Richard and the Cowboys to dream of featuring their own Richard Sherman.
"I think he’s trying to turn me into his next Richard Sherman or something". - Dallas Cowboys Cornerback Kameron Kelly
Kris Richard is going to coach everybody he comes across hard. He knows no other way. Kam Kelly is already embracing this, seeing the Cowboys vision for him and not backing down from the challenge.
Turn on the tape for this "diamond in the rough" prospect, and you'll see a player that carries this same competitive toughness onto the field.
Will a DB compete / tackle ? Top of screen- flat footed read on bubble- trusts eyes and goes ! Just checking boxes- I see you, kameron Kelly of SDSU.... https://t.co/fJM4s16Eq1
Kelly joins Charvarius Ward, Donovan Olumba, and Tyree Robinson as the Cowboys class of UDFAs at both cornerback and safety. An athletic DB out of Oregon, Robinson has made a strong initial impression with several plays on the ball in drills so far.
However, it was Kam Kelly that set up an interception for Jameill Showers in yesterday's practice by getting in the face of rookie Wide Receiver Michael Gallup.
Projecting anything that resembles a starting lineup for the Cowboys defense in the last week of May is silly. So too is realistically expecting Kelly, Ward, Olumba, or Robinson to ever crack this lineup.
The Cowboys could find themselves without enough practice snaps to go around for starting caliber players like Awuzie, Lewis, Jones, Anthony Brown, and even Marquez White. This does not bode well for Kam Kelly, who is only going to continue generating buzz from fans and the Dallas media.
For now, Kelly is getting his chance though. The Cowboys are ever-so-slowly getting back into form for 2018 - doing so with many familiar faces no longer on the roster. This team is going to look different on both sides of the ball come September, and Cowboys Nation can only hope it's for the better given the impressive amount of depth all over the field.
Kam Kelly won't back down from the depth the Cowboys have at CB, expecting to impress his new coach Kris Richard in the mold of three-time All-Pro Richard Sherman.
Can WR Noah Brown be a Surprise Starter in 2018?
With all of the new faces the Dallas Cowboys added to the wide receiver position it's easy to overlook someone like Noah Brown. Everyone is anxiously awaiting to find out what the "new toys" can do, but they tend to overlook an ascending player who's already on the roster. That is exactly what I believe Brown is in his second-year and why he could be a surprise starter in 2018.
Noah Brown didn't have a large offensive role as a rookie in 2017, but he did show flashes of a player whose arrow is trending upward. And now that the Cowboys have revamped pretty much the entire receiver position, Brown has a chance to climb the depth chart and become much more than just a role player.
There is really no way of knowing exactly where and how the Dallas Cowboys plan to deploy their WRs this season. The only thing we really know right now is that Cole Beasley will once again be the slot WR. Everything else is completely up for grabs, which is why this could be the position battle to watch throughout the remainder of the offseason.
With Dez Bryant, Ryan Switzer, and quite possibly Terrance Williams all gone, someone is going to have to catch passes from Dak Prescott in 2018. Allen Hurns, who the Cowboys signed as a free agent, is expected to replace some of that lost production as either the X or Y WR. But, behind him there's a lot of unknown.
The third-round draft pick Michael Gallup has the skill set to also play either X or Y, and should be part of the equation as well. But, you never really know how these collegiate players will transition to the speed of the NFL.
That is why I believe Noah Brown has a real shot at becoming a starter this season. This is especially true with Terrance Williams recent off the field troubles. I kind of doubt he has a job much longer.
With Williams likely on his way out, Noah Brown moves up the depth chart. I believe he can immediately step in and replace #83's production in the passing game and as a blocker in the running game as well. We got a glimpse of him doing just that last season, which might be why he's getting first-team reps in organized team activities (OTA's).
Second-year WR Noah Brown got a ton of work with the first-team. Lance Lenoir did also
It's easy to forget, but Noah Brown was mostly utilized as a blocking WR/TE last season. At 6'2", 225, Brown is now the biggest and most physical receiver on the Cowboys roster. His blocking ability is what got him on the field as a rookie, but he's no slob in the passing game if given the chance.
Brown is already a solid route runner, but he has been working during the offseason with a WR Guru, David Robinson, to improve this area of his game.
@dallascowboys NFL WR Noah Brown has been in the lab 🔬 grinding hard folks! Look out for this kid he is going to be dangerous!!! "Train Like A Pro" @BobbyBeltTX @BenRogers @1053thefan https://t.co/0cDY4BJJit
Now, I may be a little biased since I was a fan of Noah Brown's before the Cowboys drafted him. I actually had a fourth-round grade on him coming out of Ohio, so I was ecstatic Dallas was able to get him in the seventh.
But, despite my favoritism, I can really envision him becoming a surprise starter when the season opens up. He not only has the skill set to do it, but a year in the system could gives him an advantage over these new additions. It could of making all the difference.
Do you think WR Noah Brown be a surprise starter in 2018?
Creating a Monster: The Dallas Cowboys Offensive Line
After years of building, drafting, and retooling, the Dallas Cowboys have completed their offensive line. And in the process, they've created a monster. The addition of Connor Williams in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft has reasserted the Dallas Cowboys offensive line as the best in football -- and it may not be close.
The team has been on this path since 2011 to create an identity for their football team that starts up front on the offensive line.
What transpired in the 2009 and 2010 seasons had a lot to do with the direction the team has taken over the last 8 seasons to ensure they were great up front.
The End of 2009
In 2009, the Dallas Cowboys won the NFC East and proceeded to win their wild card game to reach the divisional round for the second time in three years, only to be beaten by the Minnesota Vikings 34-3.
What transpired in that game should have been enough for the Cowboys to address their offensive line in the 2010 draft as quarterback Tony Romo was sacked six times and threw an interception.
On the season, Romo was sacked 34 times, which is more than twice a game. Perhaps the wins on the season and the division title masked the issues the team had up front.
The Debacle of the 2010 Season
The team had lofty expectations heading into 2010. They had been to the playoffs three of the previous four seasons and, despite the drubbing at the hands of the Vikings, were still a formidable offensive team with some star power on defense in DeMarcus Ware.
Unfortunately, it was never to be.
Tony Romo only started six games and was sacked seven times in that span. Cowboys quarterbacks were sacked a total of 31 times, which would be right outside the top ten for most sacks allowed in the NFL in 2010.
Tony Romo went 1-5 in his six starts that season, getting sacked seven times in those six games before giving way to Jon Kitna and Stephen McGee for the final ten games of the season.
Head Coach Wade Phillips was replaced by Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett after a 1-7 start that culminated in an embarrassing loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
More Than a Coach Was Changed
The change in coaching signaled a change in philosophy from a 3-4 defensive minded head coach to an offensive one who was rooted in the glory days of the Dallas Cowboys of the 90's.
Those teams were known for their elite offensive line play that set the tone for the rest of the team. They protected Troy Aikman, who is in the Hall of Fame, and paved the way for the NFL's All-Time leading rusher, Emmitt Smith.
The impact that the offensive line had on the Cowboys teams of the 90's can't be understated.
So in 2011, Jason Garrett's first NFL Draft as the Dallas Cowboys head coach, he convinced Owner and General Manager Jerry Jones that they needed to do more to protect their most valuable asset (Tony Romo) while becoming a team that could run the ball and control the clock.
With the ninth overall pick in the 2011 draft, the Dallas Cowboys selected Tackle Tyron Smith.
That selection was history making. It was the first time in the Jerry Jones era that they had spent a first round pick on an offensive lineman. A span of more than 20 years saw the Dallas Cowboys never invest a first in the offensive line.
Jason Garrett's work to make the Dallas Cowboys in the image of the Super Bowl glory days of the 90's finally came to fruition.
The Dallas Cowboys offensive line led the way for Running Back DeMarco Murray to lead the NFL in rushing. They protected Tony Romo to have the best season of his career, leading the NFL with a passer rating of 113.2.
Everything looked to be coming together for a team that went 12-4, won the NFC East, and beat some notable teams like the Seattle Seahawks along the way.
Then the "Dez Caught It" moment happened and we all came crashing back to Earth.
That season, though it didn't end in a Lombardi Trophy, was still a success as it created a template that could be successful in the NFL. As teams attempt to spread out their formations to throw the ball, the Dallas Cowboys, while still using a lot of 11-personnel, showed the NFL that you can still be a run-first, physical football team and win.
With the template set, all the Dallas Cowboys have to do is to continue to retool.
Creating a Monster
Let's review how the Dallas Cowboys have collected this impressive group of humans to block for their football team.
- Tyron Smith was the ninth overall pick in the 2011 draft. Though he started out as a right tackle his rookie season, he made the move to the left side in his second year and has been considered one of the best tackles in the NFL since. Back issues have slowed him down, but he's still in his prime heading into his eighth (!!!) NFL Season.
- Travis Frederick was the 31st pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. A lot of the draft analysts around the league believed that to be a reach at the time when the Dallas Cowboys traded back to 31 to select Frederick. They don't think it's a reach now.
- In 2014 the Dallas Cowboys, yet again, selected an offensive lineman in the first round of the NFL Draft. It was widely reported that if Ryan Shazier would have been there at pick 16, that he would have been the selection. Shazier's been a great player in the league, but I'm actually glad that they got Martin. He's considered the best guard in the NFL and will probably be so for the next ten years.
- Right Tackle La'el Collins would have been a first round draft pick had his name not been attached to the murder of his ex-girlfriend. Instead of being a first round draft pick, the Dallas Cowboys, led by GM Jerry Jones, wined and dined Collins into signing a pretty nice deal for a UDFA. After rotating with Leary for a couple of seasons, he's now the RT for the best offensive line in football.
That brings us to the newest addition of what has been coined The OLuminati.
Heading into the 2018 NFL Draft, the whole world knew -- or hoped -- the Dallas Cowboys would address the left guard spot early on. When the first round came and went, most of us, including this writer, thought they'd likely have to trade up in the second to still come away with a plug and play guard at pick number 50.
So when they landed Connor Williams while staying put at 50, Cowboys Nation erupted with joy.
Connor Williams is strong enough to play on the interior but comes with the movement and flexibility to get to the perimeter and the second level. Though he was good last year, Jonathan Cooper was the weak link because of his movement limitations.
Strike First, Strike Hard, No Mercy
I just watched season one of the YouTube Red production Cobra Kai, which follows the lives of The Karate Kid's main characters Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence as adults.
Johnny, broke as a joke, relaunched the Cobra Kai karate brand based on the philosophy, "Strike First, Strike Hard, No Mercy." While it's a harsh philosophy to be teaching a bunch of teenagers, it certainly has its place with the Dallas Cowboys offensive line.
This group has the attitude and the ability to ruin days for opposing defenses. They aren't just going to get in your way, they're going to hit you and go through you.
This group of lineman has no weaknesses and if we talk about the signing of Cam Fleming, now you have a guy that played tackle for the New England Patriots during the Super Bowl as your tackle off the bench if you need him.
The Dallas Cowboys are going to be able to run inside and outside and to both sides of the offensive line with regularity because of the strength, physicality, and movement ability of their starting five. Opposing defenses aren't going to be able to load up on one side of the line because of a perceived weakness on the other side.
With Ezekiel Elliott running behind them, who's shown the ability to stretch a play outside and make a big run or find a crease in the middle of the line for a huge play, this is the Dallas Cowboys running game that Jason Garrett has been looking for since he took over in 2011.
While they've had success in the past, I have huge expectations for this group in 2018. 1,600 rushing yards for Elliott if he plays 16 games should be the floor. There's no reason he shouldn't flirt with a 2,000 yard season.
Now, whether that leads to a Super Bowl Championship remains to be seen, but we've seen in the past that when the Dallas Cowboys have success in the run game, it usually leads to wins, and lots of them.
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