Can Terrance Williams Replace Dez Bryant In Dallas?


On Friday, the internet exploded with the possibility that Dallas Cowboys All-Pro wide recevier Dez Bryant could elect to sit out part of the upcoming regular season if a long-term contract with Dallas wasn’t agreed to by then.

If this scenario does become reality come September, can third-year wide out Terrance Williams really replace Bryant’s production in the starting lineup? Or even replace him altogether?

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First, let’s look at what Bryant brings to the table statically. Last year, the 26-year old recorded 88 receptions for 1,320 and a league-leading 16 touchdowns. Bryant was also invited to his second-straight Pro Bowl and named a first team All-Pro for the first time in his five-year career.

But in 2014, Bryant was targeted a total of 136 times. That’s only three less targets than Williams has had his entire two-year career. Certainly, Bryant has had the benefit of getting more targets as he has earned them during his time in Dallas.

Speaking of Williams, as the Robin to Bryant’s Batman, last season was quietly a decent year for the Cowboys second starting wide recevier. Despite being targeted nine less times during his sophomore season than his rookie one, Terrance recorded a career-high eight touchdowns for Dallas last year.

Another area where Williams has excelled is blocking. Helping to lead Dallas to a 12-4 regular season record featuring the league’s second best rushing team, Pro Football Focus ranks the two-year starter as the Cowboys best blocking wide out in 2014, and 20th best in the NFL.

Williams caught 37 passes off of 65 targets for 621 yards in 2014, as he struggled with consistency. But his 57% catch rating isn’t that far off from Bryant’s 65% rating of last season.

But in actuality, Williams’ numbers should have benefited more from the fact Bryant is often double-teamed by opposing defensive secondaries, leaving the 25-year old in single coverage.

William’s numbers should be much higher due to the extra attention Bryant garners. Although Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo has a plethora of targets to choose from, this fact alone indicates why Williams isn’t ready for the top recevier role quite yet.

But the word out of Valley Ranch this offseason suggests the former Baylor Bear is improving and on the right path. In an article for, Around The NFL writer Chris Wesseling made this note about the Cowboys’ fledgling star wide out earlier this week.

"“Tony Romo heaped praise on Terrance Williams, noting that the third-receiver has had a “great month” with Dez Bryant skipping offseason practices. “That’s one of the most exciting things I have seen,” Romo said, “is just Terrance’s ability to take that next step and just grow and get better.” Williams’ development is reminiscent of Texans wideout DeAndre Hopkins taking advantage of Andre Johnson‘s absence last offseason.”"

It’s interesting that Wesseling mentions Hopkins here, as the Houston Texans third-year recevier now has the difficult task of replacing legendary wide out Andre Johnson in H-Town. Also interesting is the fact the Texans’ first round selection in the 2011 NFL Draft was taken just two rounds before Williams.

But as far as the topic of Williams replacing Bryant in Dallas goes, it’s not happening this year…or maybe ever. Although he may be called upon at some point to replace Dez in the starting lineup in 2015, Terrance isn’t on Bryant’s talent level.

The bottom line is elite, Hall of Fame level players don’t come around very often. And although Terrance Williams is a good recevier who has plenty of potential to get better, he’s still no Dez Bryant. Just like Alvin Harper was no Michael Irvin.

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