Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State
Weight: 225 pounds
40 time: 4.52
An extremely talented receiver with a terrific combination of size, speed, and athleticism, Dez Bryant enters the NFL after having played in just three games as a junior. In 2009, Bryant was suspended by the NCAA for lying about meetings that he had with NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders.
A full-time starter for one year at Oklahoma State, Bryant caught 147 passes for 1,425 yards and 29 touchdowns over the course of his career for the Cowboys, including a fantastic season in 2008 when he caught 87 passes for 1,480 yards and 19 touchdowns as a sophomore.
Dez Bryant has great size with a tall, long frame that opens him up as a large target in the passing game; he also has the long arms needed to pluck the ball out of the air away from his body. He has very reliable hands with the ability to make acrobatic catches and come down with receptions that usually wouldn’t be caught. He does a terrific job of adjusting to the ball while it’s in the air; his body control and ball skills are phenomenal, as he excels at climbing the ladder, high pointing the ball, and grabbing it out of the air; he’s more than capable of winning jump balls with defensive backs and he’s a fantastic option in the redzone.
Dez is a very good route runner with quick, precise cuts as well as having the ability to sink his hips to explode in and out of his breaks. He has a great burst in the open field to run away from the defense and has shown a willingness to make plays in traffic over the middle of the field. He’s quicker and more agile in the open field with better elusiveness than you’d expect to see from a player of his size and he does a great job of adjusting on the fly to oncoming defenders in the open field.
One of the most underrated aspects of Bryant’s game is as a returner on special teams; over the course of his career at Oklahoma State, Dez returned six kicks for 143 yards and 22 punts for 431 yards (good for an unbelievable 19.59-yards per return) and three touchdowns; while a team in the NFL may not want their prized draft pick returning punts and opening himself up to injury, it’s just another area where Dez has proven to be a great playmaker.
Some scouts have questions about Bryant’s top-end speed, however, when you turn the film on, Dez’s speed is one of the last things that a team needs to worry about. He was consistently one of the fastest players on the field, if not the fastest player on the field during his career with the Cowboys.
Three games into the 2009 season, the NCAA ruled Dez ineligible for the rest of the season for lying to an NCAA investigator who was looking into a meeting that Bryant had with Sanders during the offseason. After Oklahoma State appealed the decision to the NCAA’s Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee, it was denied and Bryant’s college career had come to an end. This won’t hurt Dez’s draft stock, but he’s going to have to be honest with teams and explain to them what happened.
The only thing on the field that I think that Bryant really needs to work on is as a blocker in the run game where he could stand to improve in this area to take advantage of his great size and strength out on the edge. Dez didn’t take part in the workouts at the Combine due to a hamstring injury. I project that Bryant will be drafted in the first round, specifically among the Top 15, if not the Top 10 picks.
Dez Bryant has all of the physical tools and talent that I look for in a future elite receiver in the NFL. He projects as a future No. 1 receiver for a team in the NFL and has the potential and upside to develop into a Pro Bowl-caliber player for his team. Dez is on a similar level to what Michael Crabtree was on when he entered the draft in 2009.
Notes: Dez was named first-team All-American in 2008 and second-team Freshman All-American in 2007. One of the top recruits in the country coming out of high school, Dez was rated as the No. 7 player in the state of Texas as well as the No. 9 wide receiver and No. 54 overall player in the country by Rivals.com. Between his junior and senior seasons in high school, Bryant caught 101 passes for 2,232 yards and 37 touchdowns; he scored a total of 41 touchdowns over the course of his high school career.
Physically, Bryant is the most talented wideout in the draft and has everything you want in a No. 1 receiver. But he doesn’t come to the NFL without concerns. Let’s start with the mild one: Bryant looked heavier and less agile during his brief junior season and weighed in at the Combine at 225; he didn’t work out at the combine and forgot his preferred shoes at his Pro Day, so there are concerns he maybe isn’t as fast as he played when making his initial splash as a sophomore. Then there’s the “knucklehead” factor, which builds on the possibility that he let himself go during his suspension and forgot to bring his shoes to the biggest job interview of his career. There’s plenty of backstory to Bryant: a teenage mom who did drugs, special ed classes as a kid, three tries at the ACT before qualifying for college, needing to be walked to class on numerous occasions to maintain eligibility, the yearlong suspension for lying to the NCAA about meeting with Deion Sanders... it all adds up to serious questions about what Bryant might (or, more specifically, might not) do once an NFL team gives him a boatload of money.
Like the NFL team that eventually drafts him, dynasty leaguers will be taking a significant risk with Bryant—but one with tremendous upside. Keep an eye on which team feels it can keep Bryant in line; if he goes to, say, Bill Parcels in Miami or Bill Belichick in New England, odds are he’ll get the necessary babysitting to get to the field and display his awesome talents. While there’s still a chance Bryant will find a way to screw up his potential, dynasty leaguers might at least sleep better knowing that Tuna or Hoodie are keeping him in line.