by Matt Bowen
April 10, 02010
Dez Bryant is still considered the top WR in the 2010 draft class. When you turn on the tape, it is hard to question his abilities as an athlete and as a prospect that can line up outside of the numbers and make plays.
But, because of the questions—or concerns—about him, teams who wouldn’t have had a shot at Bryant months ago in the draft are now starting to do their homework on the former Oklahoma State star.
Bryant, according to reports, met with the Patriots this week and took a trip to Baltimore to visit with the Ravens yesterday. Two teams who draft in the bottom half of the first round.
What this should tell us is that teams are preparing for a case when Bryant begins to slide on opening night of the draft.
Take the Patriots, a team who has their own question marks at WR due to the knee injury of Wes Welker, and a team who is looking at plenty of WR prospects. We can speculate on a time table for Welker’s return for the 2010 season—and his production—but until we see him on the field running the option routes, the 3-step game and the inside verticals against a nickel corner, we can’t guarantee that he will be as productive in the box score as he has been in year’s past with Tom Brady.
Randy Moss is still the top deep threat and the best player in the vertical game in the entire NFL in my opinion, but after 2010, is he going to be back in New England? Again, up for discussion, but the fact still remains that if you are the Pats and Bill Belichick, it is hard to pass up on a talent like Bryant if he sitting there at No.22. He might not be the perfect fit when it comes to team need at that point, but the draft boards begin to change when big time talent drops.
We can say the same for Baltimore at No.25. The addition of Anquan Boldin may be one of the best moves of the off-season, and picking up Bryant that late is basically what amounts to the steal of the first round. Another weapon for Joe Flacco, and another option in the vertical passing game.
And, that is why we are starting to see more teams study Bryant, such as Pittsburgh, that wouldn’t have been in the mix before the combine. They will go back and watch more tape to see if the WR fits in their offensive scheme and also do their fair share of background work on Bryant off of the field.
Yes, this can all be a wasted discussion if Bryant comes off the board to teams like Miami or Denver earlier in the first round, but the league is aware that a slide could come. And, they want to be prepared if the top WR falls into their laps.
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