Don’t sleep on the Dallas Cowboys Receiving Corps

Dec 21, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys receivers Cole Beasley (11) Dez Bryant (88) and Terrance Williams (83) pose for a phot in the fourth quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 21, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys receivers Cole Beasley (11) Dez Bryant (88) and Terrance Williams (83) pose for a phot in the fourth quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports /

The Dallas Cowboys wide receiver corps has several impactful storylines you’ll want to follow closely this season.

Going into the draft, wide receiver was on the list of “wants” by the Dallas Cowboys. Not a desperate need, but a depth man would be nice. Rounds went by and the pick didn’t transpire. But this week’s OTA’s gave an insight into why Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones and company didn’t rush to make that pick in the draft.

Since the 2013 season, Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley have been the top trio of receivers for the Cowboys. Bryant the clear number one receiver, providing the x-factor; Williams opposite him making plays when #88 is double teamed; and Beasley is a unique slot man and a favorite outlet of quarterback Tony Romo.

Last season was the first time the trio had significant game time missing with Bryant’s foot injury sidelining him for seven games. Williams hasn’t missed a game as a Cowboy during his first three years in the league. And Beasley has been absent only twice in his three seasons.

Since 2013, the trio have amassed 6,475 yards off a combined 473 receptions, with a total completion percentage of 60.79%. They scored 59 touchdowns in that time. But totaling just 11 scores last year showed the impact of having Romo under center for only four games due to injury.

Williams was disappointing in Bryant’s absence. Invisible for large spells of the season and failed to form any reliable relationship with the incoming quarterbacks. Cole Beasley is such a niche weapon, not every quarterback will rely upon the pint size receiver.

But there’s no question on the production the three can have when healthy alongside Romo on the field. But what about the depth behind them?

Selected in the 5th round of the 2014 draft, Devin Street has quite simply sucked. In thirty games, he’s caught the ball nine times, at a completion rate of 45%. His first and only touchdown came against the Giants last year, although it was an impressive one. But this remains the only memorable moment of Street’s in his two season Cowboys career.

While expectations weren’t for Street to oust Williams as the number two receiver in Dallas, it was reasonable to think he would pressure Beasley for some time in the slot. Yet as Cole seemingly gets better, Devin is just becoming more irrelevant.

"“I believe that Street has one foot in the parking lot. With all the practice time and game action that he received, he did nothing with it.” – Bryan Broaddus, football analyst"

At 25 years old, Street doesn’t have age on his side. Training camp will see undrafted receivers wanting to make a point and prove they can offer value to this Cowboys roster. He needs to show he wants to be on this team.

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When Bryant got injured last season, the Cowboys flipped a fifth round pick to the Oakland Raiders in return for receiver Brice Butler. Butler featured for the Cowboys in seven games, having 12 receptions from 26 targets and notching 258 receiving yards.

Butler had just a few snaps with Romo before number nine was ruled out for most of the season. In his absence, backup quarterback Kellen Moore began to form a partnership with Butler. In the final two games of the season, Moore targeted the receiver 19 times with eight of those secured as catches.

Butler was thrust straight into action for the Cowboys. Learning the playbook and bonding with teammates which was most difficult given the revolving door of quarterbacks under center. Brice certainly showed flashes that he could well be productive receiver in Dallas.

"“One of the challenges with players when they come into your team during the regular season is they don’t have a real foundation with you…They’re kind of picking things up on the run and they’re learning game plans and they’re learning your system as you’re getting ready to play a game.”  Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys head coach"

Injury meant Butler couldn’t put together a consistent run of games last year, making this offseason and subsequent training camps crucial to his development. He showed real athleticism in spells and could well compete with Williams for the number two role, particularly with Williams rookie contract expiring after this season. How Romo and Butler connect will be crucial.

Butler could very well be the breakout candidate of 2016 for the Dallas Cowboys. Don’t go sleeping on these wide receivers in Dallas.

Next: The Cowboys hope to provide pressure from the inside out

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