Cleat Geeks

How Does Dallas Replace The Talent, Reliability, & Production Of Bryant?

An end of an era has come upon the Dallas Cowboys after they released their star Wide Receiver in Dez Bryant. Amidst the headaches and the tensions between Dez and the coaches, it appeared that Dez was willing to work out the issues. The other side of the spectrum, it appeared the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff and the front office was unwilling to deal with him and his antics. On Friday, the Cowboys cut the 3-time Pro-Bowler and the 2014 All-Pro after possible internal tensions started to arise. Bryant was scheduled to make $12.5 million through the 2018-2019 NFL season if he had remained on the team.

Even though the Dallas Cowboys have a wide array of great offensive weapons, Dez Bryant is probably one of the most valuable (excluding QB Dak Prescott). The Cowboys suffered multiple injuries on the Offensive Line and they also dealt with the suspension of RB Ezekiel Elliot in the previous season. That reduced the efficiency of their highly talented offense to a below average set by them in 2016. The loss of Dez Bryant may be one of the biggest losses that Dallas might not recover very well because of his excellent play-making ability and reliability both in his workload and his clutch performances. Now the Cowboys will have to deal with replacing Bryant just a few days before the start of the 2018 NFL Draft. While this comes at a good time to find a suitable replacement, there are many other areas Dallas needs to address that might be tough to do deal with now.

 

Impact of WR Dez Bryant prior to his release

Image result for dez bryant wallpaper

Photo by; Pd4Pic

The Cowboys not only released one of their best playmakers but also one of their most reliable in Bryant. A couple of characteristics used to describe Dez Bryant include durable, explosive, and clutch. For 8 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, Bryant was one of the best playmakers in terms of getting points on the board and even leading his offense past tough obstacles. He was also such a huge part of their offense. In his first Pro Bowl season in 2013, Dez Bryant accounted for 93 receptions (24.8% of the team’s receptions), 1,233 yards (29.2% of the team’s receiving yards), and 13 touchdowns (39.4% of the team’s reception touchdowns). The following year, which would be his 2nd Pro-Bowl selection, Bryant account for 88 receptions (26.8% of the team) for 1,320 receiving yards (32.9% of the team) and 16 touchdowns (43.2% of the team). These two seasons were the most productive that the Cowboys would have in the playoffs under QB Tony Romo.

In the past two seasons, under the leadership of rookie Quarterback Dak Prescott, Bryant had fewer receptions than the 2013 and 2014 season. He did, though, still manage to get the same amount of opportunity and production in receiving yards and touchdowns than his other teammates. In the 2016-2017 NFL season, Bryant accounted for 50 receptions (15.4% of the team) for 796 yards (21% of the team) and 8 receiving touchdowns (32% of the team). This would be his 3rd and most recent Pro-Bowl invitation. Last season, Bryant accounted for 69 receptions (22.3% of the team) for 838 yards (25.2% of the team) and 6 receiving touchdowns (27.3% of the team). Despite the recent drop in numbers, Bryant remained as one of the Cowboys’ best offensive players and one of the NFL’s most consistent and reliable Receivers. The Cowboys had more attempts and success in the run game from Prescott and Elliot than in the past with just RB DeMarco Murray.

 

The degree of difficulty the Cowboys have without WR Dez Bryant

Image result for dez bryant wallpaperLosing a #1 Wide Receiver is always a difficult situation to deal with but for the Dallas Cowboys, they must replace someone who was the team’s best option for every passing distance. Bryant was also the team’s offensive veteran outside of TE Jason Witten as well as the most reliable to get them out of tough situations. Bryant’s durability in his workload and his reliability as a clutch player will be sorely missed in the Cowboys’ offense this upcoming 2018-2019 NFL season. An example of his clutch playmaking ability would be in the 2014 NFC Divisional Round where Dez Bryant caught a 31-yard pass from QB Tony Romo on 4th & 2. Although the play was overturned by the main NFL referees, the play would now be considered a catch in the NFL’s new catch rule.

The problem with the Dallas Cowboys now isn’t what Dez Bryant is taking with him as a dominant playmaker but more in lines of what the other Receivers for Dallas do not contribute. Cole Beasley suffered a drop off in production in 2017 with only 36 receptions for 314 yards and 4 touchdowns after accounting for 75 receptions (team-high) for 833 receiving yards (team-high) and 5 touchdowns the season before. WR Terrance Williams is a productive receiver as a starter as last season he accounted for 53 receptions for 568 yards (averaging 10.7 yards per reception) but he did not account for a touchdown. He is also recovering from a foot injury from the previous season to where he only played in 14 of Dallas’ 16 games. TE Jason Witten is an excellent leader and play-maker in the short-yardage game. Last season, he accounted for 63 receptions for 560 yards (8.9 average yards per reception) and 5 touchdowns. The Cowboys do not know how long Witten will be in the NFL as he will turn 36-year old this early May.

Williams is a former 1st round selection by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2013 NFL Draft. Their main goal with Williams, now that Dez is gone, is to increase the production level to where he will ease the transitioning of Dez’s departure. It is not impossible for Williams to account for a 1,000 receiving yard season next year but Williams needs to continue recover and must be a more reliable deep-threat. The Cowboys coaching staff needs Beasley to be a more efficient slot Receiver instead just randomly inserting him into the offense. Williams has the talent to be matching Bryant’s production level but that is still to be seen. The important issue for the Cowboys to avoid with Williams to not have him take on the complete workload that Dez took on if he is not capable.

 

Wide Receiver is now a top focus in the 2018 NFL Draft

To replace a durable and very talented Wide Receiver like Dez Bryant, action must be taken fast by the Dallas Cowboys. This close to the 2018 NFL Draft without a #1 option, they can either trade for one from another team or they can take one early in the Draft. The Cowboys have the 19th pick in the Draft and while addressing the defense is the main issue, finding a #1 Wide Receiver is a vital position for Dallas to address as well. Particular Receivers that the Cowboys are interested in acquiring that have a chance to pick are Alabama’s Calvin Ridley, Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk, and SMU’s Courtland Sutton.

Image result for wide receivers 2018 nfl draft

Photo by; Gridiron Now

The way to pick the best Receiver for Dallas in this Draft is to match the intensity, durability, reliability, talent, and workload that Dez Bryant possessed for the Dallas Cowboys for 8 seasons. For the past 3 seasons at Alabama, WR Calvin Ridley has had the ability to account for a high-amount of yards and touchdowns through his quickness and great catch-ability. For 3 seasons at Alabama, Ridley has accounted for at least 27% or more of the Tide Receivers input of receptions as well as 30% or more (excluding 2016) of the Receivers yards. Last season, Calvin Ridley accounted for 63 receptions (30.9% of the team) for 967 yards (35.7% of the team) for an average of 15.8 yards per reception and 5 touchdowns. If Baltimore with the 16th pick doesn’t select Ridley then expect Dallas to make a serious consideration for Calvin Ridley to be the exact replacement of Dez Bryant.

If Ridley is already selected then a player like Christian Kirk (Texas A&M) could be a likely candidate to be Dallas’ new #1 WR. Last season at Texas A&M, Kirk accounted for 71 receptions (28.1% of the team) for 919 yards (28.1% of the team) and 10 touchdowns (45.5% of the team). Kirk has shared a multiple Receiver passing systems at A&M unlike Ridley, who predominately got the bulk of the catches based on systematics. Courtland Sutton is a big Receiver who accounted for very high numbers of a predominately passing offense at Southern Methodist. Last season, Sutton accounted for 68 receptions (24% of the team) for 1,085 yards (28.4% of the team) for 12 touchdowns (34.3% of the team). If the Cowboys were to go with Sutton then they could also acquire his Mustangs teammate in WR Trey Quinn (projected at Round 4 or 5). Last season, Quinn accounted for 114 receptions (40.3% of the team) for 1,236 yards (32.3% of the team) and 13 touchdowns (35.1% of the team). Both Sutton and Quinn accounted for 282 receptions (64.3% of the team) for 2,321 receiving yards (60.7% of the team) and 25 receiving touchdowns (71.4% of the team).

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