If you haven’t heard, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant was ranked according to a group of anonymous NFL players, as the 25th best player in the league on the NFL Network’s Top 100 Countdown. And while I have no problem with the 25th overall ranking, I did have a problem with some of the receivers ranked ahead of him. If you asked 32 general managers in the league who they would’ve rather have had last year when choosing between Dez Bryant, Antonio Brown and Andre Johnson, I’m betting that at least 28 of them choose Bryant. It’s really not even up for discussion. And then there’s this:
Here's what a current NFL GM had to say about @DezBryant: "Physical freak with the size, speed and talent to be a top-5 WR for a long time."
— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) July 2, 2014
Last week, I was working on a summer-long Dez Bryant article that will come out later this month and stumbled across a chart that ESPN posted last week, showing Dez Bryant when compared to Calvin Johnson in his first 50 games as a pro. And that got me thinking; how does Dez compare with other elite wide receivers in their first 50 games? So here’s a list of a few active and retired greats and how Bryant measures up:
Yes, you could argue that some of these names are cherry-picked. But find any receiver in NFL history (outside of Jerry Rice) and you should find that Dez and said player are close. Here’s a cool stat for Dez Bryant; only one player in the NFL since the merger in 1970 has had more receiving touchdowns than Bryant before their 25th birthday. That player is Randy Moss. Even the greatest wide receiver ever Jerry Rice, was a full 10 touchdowns behind Dez. We are talking about one of the greatest starts to a career in NFL history. Does this mean Dez will be better than Rice or Irvin? Of course not. But it shows you what kind of career Bryant *could* have. To be that productive that early in a career means that there is certainly the potential for much to come.
Since Dez Bryant came into the league in 2010, I have continually said that Dez is the best red zone wide receiver in the league. Bryant had the most red zone touchdowns in 2013 with 10. And when Dez scores, he just doesn’t walk into the end zone. He typically does it in dramatic fashion. Take a look at some of his touchdown grabs in 2013:
How many of the above touchdowns does the average player score on? One? None? He’s the best red-zone receiver I think I have seen since Randy Moss. And what should scare opponents even more is that we still aren’t close to Bryant’s peak yet. Most great receivers have their best seasons later on. Here is a list of some receivers you will recognize and their best statistical year. Take a look at their age when that season occurred:
I believe 2014 will be the start of Dez Bryant’s peak. If his game continues on the pace that he has set, Dez Bryant *could* be considered one of the best wide receivers to ever play the game and certainty one of the best to ever wear a Dallas Cowboys’ jersey. History says that he’s on his way. Let’s try to enjoy his greatness while we can.