Ventell Bryant was one of the quietest members of the Dallas Cowboys’ 2019 roster. But after playing 12 games last year, mainly on special teams, did Bryant do enough to be considered a front-runner for the WR depth chart in 2020?
You’re forgiven if you don’t really remember Ventell. He was only targeted once all season as a receiver, though that one pass did result in a 15-yard touchdown during the Thanksgiving game. The most noticeable thing about him was having “Bryant” on the back of Terrance Williams‘ old #83; a two-way tribute to Dallas’ former starting WR duo.
Bryant went undrafted last year and signed with the Cincinnati Bengals. He was released at final cuts and then the Cowboys signed him to their practice squad. Since they didn’t play the Bengals during the preseason, Dallas probably had interest in Ventell going back to the 2019 Draft.
Ventell got called up in Week 5 to help on special teams and remained on the 53-man roster the rest of the year. Behind players like Tavon Austin and Cedrick Wilson on the depth chart, Bryant only got that had that one moment of offensive glory against Buffalo on Thanksgiving.
You can accurately say that every time the Cowboys throw to Ventell Bryant, they score a touchdown.
The WR depth chart in 2020 is setting up similarly to last year’s group. There is a clear top three again with Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup returning, plus CeeDee Lamb replacing Randall Cobb.
But whether they keep an additional 2-4 receivers this season, Dallas will likely have open competition for all those spots. And given the work he did last year, Ventell Bryant should be a contender for one of them.
Consider some of the other options for a moment. Devin Smith was looking like the clear 4th WR after the first few weeks of 2019. But he disappeared in Week 4 and was never activated again the rest of the year. He did have a knee injury, but there was also disappointment over inconsistent play.
We mentioned Cedrick Wilson before and he’s definitely a key figure in this discussion. Not only has he flashed potential on offense but also as a potential punt returner. Entering his third season now, Wilson is the favorite on many lists to be the 4th WR in 2020.
One guy who shouldn’t be ignored is Noah Brown. The last two years have been marred by injury, but Brown was gaining traction in 2018 for his blocking skills and powerful running style after the catch. If he can finally stay healthy, Brown could be a sleeper for a significant role both on offense and special teams.
Jon’Vea Johnson is also back this year, hoping to restore his hype from last year’s training camp and erase a rough 2019 preseason. If Johnson has worked the drops out of his game then he can definitely push for a roster spot.
Where does Ventell Bryant stack up with these other hopefuls? He has great size at 6’3″ and about 210 lbs., much like Noah Brown and Cedrick Wilson. His special teams work also creates an edge over Devin Smith and Jon’Vea Johnson.
One potential deterrent for the Cowboys with Ventell is his arrest in March for a misdemeanor DUI charge. The team has certainly stuck by players with far greater infractions, and they have so far with Bryant. But it’s something that will factor into the final decisions.
The arrival of new Head Coach Mike McCarthy and WR Coach Adam Henry mean a fairly clean slate for these receiver prospects. Kellen Moore will have some say in things as the holdover offensive coordinator, but at this point it’s hard to say how all of these players will measure against each other by the September 5th cut deadline.
Ventell Bryant may not have been a noticeable entity on last year’s team. But he put in 12 games of work as a reserve and special teamer, which is more than any of our other contenders can say. That alone makes him a name worth remembering for the WR competition in 2020.