Dec 2, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant (88) catches a pass in the fourth quarter pass against Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (23) at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Where Does Dallas Cowboys’ Dez Bryant Rank Among NFL’s Best?

Heading into the 2012 season, the expectations for Dez Bryant were as high as any Dallas Cowboys’ wide receiver in recent memory. When Dallas moved up in the first round of the 2010 draft to pick the talented yet troubled wide receiver, they believed they were getting the next Calvin Johnson. But after his first two seasons in the NFL, Bryant only flashed his potential and failed to reach expectations.

Through the first eight games of the 2012 season, Dez Bryant registered 42 catches for 503 yards and only two touchdowns. Although it wasn’t a terrible statistical half, the expectations were much higher for the former 24th overall pick. Bryant had a very disappointing game at home against Chicago after running an incorrect route just before halftime. The disconnect between him and Tony Romo led to a pick-six for Bears defensive back Charles Tillman. A few weeks later, Dez thought that he had hauled in the game winning touchdown pass against the New York Giants, but his finger landed out of bounds before he could complete the catch.

Dec 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant (88) runs after a catch for a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints at Cowboys Stadium. The Saints beat the Cowboys 34-31 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

A poor Sunday night game against the Atlanta Falcons, where Bryant disappeared after catching only one pass for four yards, nearly sealed his fate. The Dez Bryant experiment as Dallas’ number one receiver seemed to be over. Many fans, media members and former Cowboy players were ready to move on from Dez Bryant. Former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Drew Pearson said “He (Dez Bryant) isn’t living up to expectations wearing that number.”  But just like the other number 88’s before him, Bryant turned into the playmaker everyone thought he would be for the remaining eight games of the season.

After an impressive game against the Philadelphia Eagles in which he hauled in a long second half touchdown to tie the game, Dez was in full beast mode to finish the season.  Things finally started to click for Bryant. Dez finished the second half of the season with 50 catches for 879 yards for an absurd 10 touchdowns! What makes these statistics even more impressive is that he played the final four games with a broken left index finger that eventually required surgery.

How good was Dez Bryant’s second half compared to his peers? Here is a comparison of some of the top wide receivers in 2012 and how they finished the final eight games of the season.






Dez Bryant





Julio Jones





Calvin Johnson





Brandon Marshall





Roddy White





A.J. Green





Victor Cruz





Larry Fitzgerald






As you can see, no one came close to Bryant’s touchdown totals. Bryant averaged a ridiculous 12.04 yards per target during the second half of the season. The average for this group of wide receivers was only 7.6 yards per target. Dez Bryant became one of the most efficient pass catchers in the league in 2012 due to something scouts call a “my ball mentality.”

The best way to describe this is to picture a basketball player going for a rebound. They can use their body and arms to fight for position, but typically the player who wants the ball more and fights for the rebound gets it. A NFL wide receiver isn’t going to have every pass hit him in the hands while running in stride. They have to fight for the ball the same way a basketball player does. When a wide receiver makes good adjustments to the ball and prevents interceptions, his quarterback is more likely to trust him and in turn give him even more opportunities to make plays.

Dez Bryant gained the trust of Tony Romo late in the year and it paid off in a big way for the third year player out of Oklahoma State. Dez finished the year with 92 receptions, 1,382 yards, and 12 touchdowns. His season put him in the conversation with some of the elite wide receivers in the NFL today. One thing that has become a trend since Dez entered the league is his ability to score touchdowns. Through 43 games, Dez Bryant has now scored a total of 29 touchdowns.  The thing that has Dallas Cowboy fans excited for the future is having the opportunity to see just what heights Bryant can reach. Dez has just begun scratching the surface of his potential, and with another solid off-season, we could be talking about him in the same breath as Calvin Johnson. Believe me; Dez Bryant is going to be fun to watch for the next few years.

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