Wednesday, August 11, 2010

8/11 Bust of the Day: Dez Bryant

Dez Bryant has already made quite a name for himself, and he hasn’t played a down in the NFL yet.

Bryant, a decorated wide receiver at Oklahoma State, had to sit out most of his junior season because he lied to the NCAA about meeting with Deion Sanders. Then, after being selected in the first round of April’s NFL Draft by the Cowboys, he made waves a few weeks ago when he refused to carry the shoulder pads of veteran WR Roy Williams, violating a longstanding rookie tradition.

In the long run we may look back and laugh at such nonsense when Bryant morphs into the next Michael Irvin, as many observers are predicting for the youngster. The 6-foot-2, 225-pounder certainly has the size and the ball skills Irvin displayed coming out of The U, and I have no doubt that, if healthy, Bryant will supplant the underwhelming Williams sooner or later and crack Dallas’ starting lineup. But his health is a concern, as he’s currently nursing a sprained ankle suffered July 30, an injury originally expected to keep him sidelined for 4-6 weeks. And that means he’s already going to be behind the curve, always a dangerous proposition for rookie WRs, who tend to not make huge impacts to begin with.

It’s not that I don’t think Bryant will turn out to be an exceptional pro long-term or have any value short-term. It’s just that I think people (especially Cowboys fans) will recognize the name and the skill set and tend to overvalue him on draft day. Dallas QB Tony Romo has a lot of mouths to feed (Williams, Miles Austin, Jason Witten, Felix Jones ...), so a projection of, say, 700-800 yards and 5 TDs for Bryant in his first season is more than fair. But there are a lot of receivers who can put up those numbers, and many are likely to go later in your draft than a big name like Bryant. He’s promising, but a fantasy No. 3 at best right now.

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