#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.
Potential RB Prospects Dallas Cowboys Could Target in Each Round
The Dallas Cowboys have been pretty forthcoming about their desire to add another starting caliber running back to pair with Ezekiel Elliott at some point in the 2019 NFL Draft. That would suggest they are prepared to take one as early at 58th overall in the second-round, or at some point in the rounds in which they hold a draft pick beyond that.
Depending on what the Dallas Cowboys mean by "starting caliber", this year's RB draft class offers some pretty intriguing candidates. It's almost impossible to know at this point which RBs might have caught their eye, so I thought it would be a good idea to share with you some of these potential candidates they could target in each round. With maybe the exception of Josh Jacobs, every other running back could be in play for the Cowboys.
Let's take a look…
Damien Harris, Alabama
Damien Harris was a three-year starter during his time in Alabama and led the team in rushing in each of those three seasons. He is one of the more complete running back prospects in the 2019 draft class and the most pro-ready. He has excellent vision and instincts, allowing him to evade would be tacklers despite his lack of explosion. He actually reminds me of a slightly less explosive version of Ezekiel Elliott, and if paired with Zeke would give the Dallas Cowboys the best RB duo in the NFL.
David Montgomery, Iowa State
David Montgomery was a three-year starter and an every down back in a heavy zone-read offense at Iowa. He is an ultra-competitive back who broke a lot of tackles during his time in college. He is elusive in short areas with quick, active feet and is quicker rather than fast. He is a good receiver out of the backfield and solid as a pass protector. Overall, he is a starting quality RB capable of handling a heavy workload in the NFL. He would make a formidable 1-2 punch if paired with Zeke.
Darrell Henderson, Memphis
Darrell Henderson was a three-year starter at Memphis and was the lead running back in their zone heavy offensive scheme. He is built (5'8", 208) more like a complementary back in the NFL and is at his best when he can slash and weave through gaps. He's not a grinder and doesn't have the kind of long speed to be a home run threat, but his agility and instincts should make him an intriguing starter in the NFL. He would be a really good complement RB to Zeke with the Dallas Cowboys.
Trayveon Williams, Texas A&M
Trayveon Williams was a two-year starter at Texas A&M and thrived in the Aggies new coaching staff's zone blocking scheme in 2018. Much like Darrell Henderson, Williams is a bit undersize and projects best as a complementary back in the NFL. He is quicker rather than fast, and shows good vision and competitiveness in both the running and receiving game. Despite his size, he is also solid in pass protection, which should help him get on the field early as a rookie.
Justice Hill, Oklahoma State
Justice Hill was a three-year starter at Oklahoma State and led the team in rushing the last three seasons. He is another undersized running back who projects best as a complementary piece in the NFL. He is a shifty runner with good lateral agility and has shown the ability to be a threat in the passing game as well. His slight frame and small stature is a cause for durability concerns and could limit him as a pass protector as well.
Rodney Anderson, Oklahoma
Rodney Anderson was pretty much a one-year wonder after his breakout season in 2017 at Oklahoma. He has had a run of bad luck throughout his collegiate career due to some unfortunate injuries, but has the size and skill set to become an every down back in the NFL if he can stay healthy. He reminds me a lot of DeMarco Murray with his upright running style and talent as a runner and receiver, but he's not nearly as polished at this point in his career.
Alexander Mattison, Boise State
Alexander Mattison was a two-year starter at Boise State and became the first player in school history to earn the Mountain West rushing title in 2018. He is a crafty runner who runs with good patience and vision, which allows his blocks to develop. He is a big, physical back with only average burst, but his tenacious running style will wear down opposing defenses throughout the game. He is also a factor in the passing game, showing soft natural hands. He would be a solid RB2 and spot starter behind Zeke.
Devine Ozigbo, Nebraska
Devine Ozigbo was a one-year starter at Nebraska and played in a heavy zone read, option offense. He is a hard charging runner who plays with a good burst, but only average long-speed. He is mostly a straight-line athlete, but is surprisingly elusive for a back his size. He has every down versatility due to his skills as a receiver and in pass protection. Like Alexander Mattison, he would be a solid RB2 and potential spot starter behind Zeke.
Elijah Holyfield, Georgia
Elijah Holyfield was a one-year starter at Georgia, but split the workload with D'Andre Swift in 2018. He looks the part of an NFL RB and has pretty impressive film that should get him drafted, but his poor testing numbers at the NFL Combine and his Pro Day will take him off of a lot of teams boards altogether. He is a tough as nails runner, but needs to improve his decision-making and tempo to stick around at the next level. If he can develop his game further, he has workhorse potential.
Bruce Anderson, North Dakota State
Bruce Anderson had a really good four-year career at North Dakota State and was a triple threat as a runner, receiver, and special teams player for the Bisons the past four seasons. He runs with good contact balance and is elusive in the open field, but he doesn't have a real good feel for setting up blocks or choosing the optimal running lane. That could improve with better coaching in the NFL, but right now he's a work in progress. His ability as a runner, receiver, and kick returner is intriguing though and should get him drafted.
Should Cowboys Avoid DL Jaylon Ferguson At 58?
First team All Conference three times. Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year in 2018. NCAA all time leader in sacks. 67.5 tackles for loss over four collegiate seasons.
This guy is a first round pick, right?
Not so fast.
Both in terms of the expression, and when speaking about the player and his ability.
These honors and stats are all held by Louisiana Tech's defensive end Jaylon Ferguson, who played himself into top 50-pick consideration during his college career. Everyone is looking for pass rushers that can get to the quarterback, and Ferguson's college production is second to none.
So why is he not talked about as a top tier edge rusher? For starters, people have questions about his level of competition in college. Playing mostly against offensive tackles who will work 9-5 jobs next year, it's sometimes difficult to evaluate just how good small school pass rushers are.
This is small concern, however, as Ferguson played well against bigger schools in college as well. The real problem scouts, and I, have with Jaylon Ferguson and the possibility of the Cowboys selecting him 58th overall, are his athletic traits.
Ferguson ran an 8.08 second three-cone at his Pro Day. According to Pro Football Reference's combine indexer, only two other defensive ends or edge rushers have ran an 8 second or greater three cone at the combine since 2000. Neither was even drafted.
8.08 seconds is downright horrible, and Ferguson's lack of bend and explosion is shown on his tape as well. Ferguson is a grinder. He's a very powerful rusher who uses his length and strength to his advantage to beat blockers and get to the quarterback. He's not going to show off an incredibly impressive get-off or really turn the corner.
But will this work consistently enough in the NFL to take Jaylon Ferguson with your first pick of the entire draft?
Personally, I wouldn't consider Jaylon Ferguson at 58. I'd start thinking about taking him in the third round, where the expectations for his future as a rusher will be tempered a bit more.
Jaylon Ferguson is too good a football player to flame out of the league or go undrafted, but his traits tell me his ceiling is nowhere near as high as the Cowboys should be looking for with their first draft pick.
Dallas Cowboys 2019 Draft Needs: Defensive End
We've been discussing the Dallas Cowboys' 2019 draft needs throughout the last week, working our way up to the most critical positions. Today we're going to look at defensive end, which could've been a major need if not for some of the Cowboys' recent free agent moves.
The biggest move was, of course, getting DeMarcus Lawrence signed to a long-term deal. Dallas avoided a holdout situation with its key defensive lineman, and hopefully soon enough that his shoulder surgery will be fully healed by Week One.
Before getting Lawrence's contract done, the Cowboys sent a 2020 sixth-round pick to the Miami Dolphins for veteran Robert Quinn. They've also signed Kerry Hyder, a hopeful reclamation project from the Detroit Lions.
These moves were partly necessary as insurance against a stalemate between Lawrence and the team over his contract. But more directly, they were needed after Randy Gregory wound up back in suspended status for another backwards step in the NFL's substance abuse program.
The team is hopeful that Gregory will return at some point in 2019, but they're too close to Super Bowl contention to count on it. And with 2017 first-rounder Taco Charlton having yet to emerge as a reliable player, Dallas knew it had to add some different options at defensive end. But with Gregory and Charlton still in the mix, the Cowboys are now about as loaded at DE as they've ever been.
In fact, we haven't even mentioned a few other options yet.
Last year, Dallas spent a fourth-round pick on pass rusher Dorance Armstrong from Kansas. He didn't get much playing time last year but flashed potential, and he may be in line for more snaps on passing down this year.
There's also versatile veteran Tyrone Crawford, who can help one the edges if needed. The Robert Quinn addition means we'll probably see Crawford more at defensive tackle this year, but he's also a factor in the Cowboys' overall security at DE.
As we can see, Dallas clearly has a stocked cupboard right now at defensive end. That allows them to not worry about the position in this week's 2019 NFL Draft, but it won't stop them from taking one either.
After all, Quinn and Hyder are only here on one-year contract. Crawford is likely going to be released next year to clear cap space. And again, we don't know how much we can rely on Gregory or Charlton now or in the future.
The Cowboys would be justified in drafting a DE if a good value pick falls to them somewhere in the middle rounds, particularly if they see that player as having more potential than Armstrong or Hyder.
Thankfully, though, Dallas' offseason activity so far has given them draft-day freedom. Their hand won't be forced at any position, and especially at defensive end thanks to their free agent moves. They can afford to wait for exceptional value this year, or until 2020 if needed.
Draft Likelihood: 20%
Projected Round: 5th-7th
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