Cowherd wrong to call Dez Bryant most overrated player in the NFL

Fox Sports Radio host Colin Cowherd is wrong when he calls Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant the most overrated player in the NFL.

Character and maturity issues were a major concern when Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant entered the NFL Draft in 2010. Those concerns ended up dropping the top-five talent to the Cowboys, who traded up for Bryant from the 27th overall selection to the 24th.

There have been a few bumps in the road in the development of Bryant on and off-the-field in Dallas, but the past few seasons have been relatively quiet. The 27-year old seemingly has matured as a player, a teammate and as a man. His associations with names like Michael Jordan and Jay-Z have seemingly help shape his growth in those areas.

But earlier this week, those maturity issues reared their ugly head once again. A highly-emotional player, Bryant missed a schedule MRI session and meetings this week for which he was fined by the Cowboys. The explanation? He was afraid.

Bryant was injured early in the first quarter of the Cowboys victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday night. After a brief visit to the locker room, Dez returned to the field and played out the rest of the game. In fact, Bryant recorded three catches for 40 yards and posted his first touchdown of the season.

Fearful of the possible bad news he would receive about the injury, Bryant immaturely missed the scheduled medical test on Monday and two days worth of meetings leaving his team, owner Jerry Jones and head coach Jason Garrett in an awkward situation with the media. Thus the mystery surrounding his injury earlier this week.

Following this latest incident, nationally syndicated sports talk radio host Colin Cowherd took to the airways to proclaim the Cowboys top receiver as the most overrated player in the league.

“But I think [Bryant] has now become the most overrated player in the NFL,” Cowherd revealed on Friday during his Fox Sports Radio show The Herd. “That’s not to say Dez Bryant is a bad player. Good player. He’s the most overrated player in the league. He can’t separate from corners. He’s incredibly needy. He now drops a lot of passes. And he’s hurt again…And you know what Andre Rison, T.O., Ocho, Moss, Dez and Odell Beckham have in common? One, they’re needy. Two, they don’t have Super Bowls.”

I’m going to personally disagree with Mr. Cowherd on this point. One could certainly argue that Bryant’s production is not living up to the lofty five-year, $70 million contract he signed last July. But calling him the most overrated player in the NFL is too far. In fact, I’d argue Bryant isn’t even the most overrated player on his own team.

First, saying Bryant is unable to separate from defenders ignores what the talented player does best. Dez is one of the most explosive playmakers in the league. His combination of size, speed, quickness and strength make him unique. Bryant’s certainly not blowing by defenders like an Olympic sprinter. But his size, hands and abilities allow him to reach past, jump over and get around defenders.

Second, concerning the point that Bryant is a needy receiver. Veteran quarterback Tony Romo calls Dez selfless and someone who only cares about his teammates. The Cowboys receivers seem to all echo the same sentiment. Bryant is undoubtedly the emotional leader of this team.

Third, the issue of dropped passes. So far this season, Bryant has been targeted 23 times. He’s recorded 11 catches for 150 yards and a score. Pittsburgh Steelers’ receiver Antonio Brown, whom some consider to be the best in the league, has caught only 24 of his 40 targets this season. Is he overrated?

A lot of the passes thrown to Bryant are high, contested lobs as the Cowboys attempt to take advantage of Dez’s excellent leaping abilities and strong hands. And many of those throws would be next to impossible for most NFL wide receivers to even come close to catching. But because he’s “Dez Bryant”, most expect him to make those highlight plays routinely.

Let’s not so quickly forget that Bryant led the league with 16 receiving touchdowns only two seasons ago. In fact, between 2012 and 2014, Dez recorded an outstanding 41 total touchdown catches. No one was calling him overrated than.

Following an injury-riddle 2015, where he played in only nine total games due to a foot injury (in which he had to have surgery on twice), Bryant’s lack of availability was more of the issue. And Dez is so passionate, he played many of those games far less than 100%, making last season a wash.

Let me also mention that poor coaching has a part to play here. Often times the Cowboys simply ignore getting Bryant involved early in this high-powered offense. That’s a mistake. Dallas often takes what opposing defenses give them, and that’s not often an open Dez.

But Bryant’s value to the Cowboys goes far beyond his numbers. As a highly-feared playmaker, he draws double-team coverages every single game, for which his teammates benefit.

If dealing with injuries makes you overrated, throw in Houston Texans’ defensive tackle J.J. Watt or New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. If underperforming to your massive contract makes you overrated, why not talk about Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, the Chicago Bears Jay Cutler or even the Cowboys own defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford?

The point is, Bryant is far from being the most overrated player in the NFL. This week, he made a mistake. Was it disappointing? Yes. But does it suddenly make him overrated? Certainly not.

In fact, I’m not sure there is a more feared player after the catch in the NFL than Dez Bryant. Just ask opposing defensive coordinators if he’s overrated. I’ll bet you get a different answer.