Dez Bryant: The Next Randy Moss, Antonio Bryant, or …?


By: Joe D.

Dez Bryant had an airing of grievances today.  He believes he is being unfairly maligned by the media.  He cited that he does not have a criminal history, and while this is true, he is guilty of assault on the English language.

“I’m not the type of person that will try to confront somebody but now I feel like it’s gone too far. It’s gone too far,” Bryant said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I ain’t never got in trouble with nobody. I never said anything. I don’t say anything wrong to nobody. I’m friendly. This here is too far.

“What do this got to do with me playing football? Even if I did forget my cleats, what do that have to do with me playing football? I don’t think it has anything to do with me playing football.”

He invokes the name of Randy Moss:

“Whoever passes up on me, it’s over with. I feel like I’m going through the same situation Randy Moss did,” he added. “That man had issues and teams were passing up on him, and when he got on that field, he killed them. He murdered them. Look at him today: One of the best players in the NFL.”

The question is, how much is he like Randy Moss?  In 1998 the Dallas Cowboys passed on a future hall of famer for a future pro-bowler.  While Greg Ellis had a good productive career, it boggles the imagination what the Cowboys offense could do with Michael Irvin and Randy Moss at the wings.  Moss grew up in West Virginia and was a Cowboys fan.  Dez Bryant grew up in Lufkin, TX (171 miles from Dallas which is known by Texans as a short trip).  Moss was led to believe that the Cowboys would draft him if he was available at the eighth pick in the draft.  Dez Bryant was invited to Valley Ranch for a personal visit.  Moss fell to 21 where he was scooped up by the Minnesota Vikings.  The future is as yet undetermined for Bryant.

Moss’s transgressions prior to the draft have been well documented:  misdemeanor batter, marijuana use, failed drug tests, losing his scholarship with Florida State.  Bryant’s transgressions are less egregious; some are a product of bad judgment and others are a product of classification (not to be confused with stereotyping).  Bryant was suspended not for having dinner with Deion Sanders, but rather lying to NCAA investigators about having had dinner with Deion.  The punishment certainly seems excessive, but Bryant made a relatively harmless situation worse; therefore, it brings his decision making into question.  His decisions on whether the CB is in press or zone coverage is not in question; the small decisions that become big and consequently affect both himself and his team.

Bryant compares himself to Randy Moss.  Moss has been a high maintenance wide receiver and has played on three teams.  During his career has has had one failed drug test, one meter maid nudged with his car, a miming performance that rivals Marcel Marceau, and caused countless QB headaches.  Other than the amount of aspirin consumed by teammates, all of the questionable decisions by Moss have been off the field.  The Cowboys certainly should be worried about Bryant’s ability to discern what is the right decision.

As for Bryant’s talent, he has only had one productive season in his collegiate career.

YEAR REC YDS AVG LNG TD ATT YDS AVG LNG TD FUM LST
2007 43 622 14.5 39 6 2 16 8.0 9 0 0 0
2008 87 1480 17.0 80 19 0 0 0.0 0 0 0 0
2009 17 323 19.0 46 4 0 0 0.0 0 0 0 0

Bryant was poised to have another great season in 2009, but it was cut short due to the suspension.  Physically Bryant is similar to Roy Williams.  Randy Moss has reportedly ran a 40 yard dash in 4.25 seconds.  Bryant at his private workout, on the other hand, ran 4.52, 4.68 and 4.52 seconds.  It’s not an awful time for a wide receiver, but considering Dez has not practiced nor played since October, it was presumed that he was training to be a professional football player.

The question is placed into the minds of scouts.  Is Bryant lazy?  Is there an internal drive that will compel him to improve?  Will be be the next Charles Rogers?  Will money affect his drive negatively?  Those questions are asked of all players, but the volume is lower for those who throw up 225 lbs. 30+ times and run a 4.3 forty time.

It wasn’t merely the high 40 time, though.  Dez did not run during the combine due to a hamstring injury and it was expected he would perform a full workout at his pro-day or the private workout.  In addition to his less than spectacular effort in the forty, he reportedly was ill-prepared for the 3 cone-drill and shuttle run.  Dez stated he had several pairs of shoes at the private workout, but did not have his preferred cleats.  He used a new pair of cleats which caused some slipping.  What was perceived by scouts is that he simply wasn’t trying.  Unfortunately for Dez, sports is often overcoming unexpected adversity.  A players attitude when faced with that adversity can mean the difference between winning and losing.

Bryant’s public response to the criticisms could be viewed as a tantrum from an immature player.  Scouts have their reputation and livelihood on the line.  They cannot afford to sugar coat what they perceive.  Body language in practice may divine information that hours of film study does not.  The media on the other hand, they can be vicious in New York, Philadelphia, and Dallas.  While most will deny it, media members will provoke players to get a response.  News is like the big bang theory.  Something can be created from nothing; it takes only one explosion.

The Cowboys have experience with “diva” wide receivers.  There are numerous stories about Michael Irvin.  The one that pops out of my memory is the one where a marginal player wouldn’t get out of the barber chair, so Irvin cut his throat.  It’s graphic and unbelievable, but apparently tolerated.  Most recently, the Cowboys have dealt with Antonio Bryant and Terrell Owens.  Bryant’s most notable act of immaturity occurred when Bryant threw his jersey at Bill Parcells’s face.  Bryant was traded to the Cleveland Browns for Quincy Morgan later that summer.  Bryant has since played for the 49ers, the Buccaneers, and Cincinnati.  The last stop on Bryant’s train will be the Raiders, though reports are that he is not fast enough.

Despite references to off the field issues prior to the draft, nothing is specifically cited in regards to Antonio Bryant.  The Ranch Report indicated:

THE BAD: Seemingly gives half hearted effort at times; lazily releases off the snap of the ball, does not always work to make the reception if the pass is not in his immediate area nor is he always willing to fight for the difficult catch. Loses focus, concentration and drops the easy throw just as quickly as he makes the one handed acrobatic reception. Not fast, lacks the top end speed and not big for a possession receiver. Must also improve his ball security. Confident in himself to the point where he’d be classified as arrogant.

Where will Dez Bryant land?  Will he have a role in Cowboys history?  Is it possible he will mature mentally?  These are questions that only time will answer.  I see more pressing needs on the Cowboys roster than WR.  He had only one impressive year while in college, and while 40 yard dash times can be deceptive (see Jerry Rice & Emmitt Smith), it certainly suggests the third round makes the risk more palatable.

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Tags: Antonio Bryant Bill Parcells Charles Rogers Dez Bryant Emmitt Smith Greg Ellis Jerry Rice Micheal Irvin Randy Moss

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