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Draft Series 3 of 9: Wide Receivers

When the Cowboys let Terrell Owens go after last season there many people, myself included, that had slight concerns but we knew that if Roy Wi…um…Miles Austin would just step up they would be fine.  While, like most people, I expected Roy Williams to pick up the slack left from T.O. I had no idea that Miles Austin would be the one to lead the team in all major receiving categories when the season was done.  Miles burst on the scene in week 5 against Kansas City and never looked back.

With the emergence of Austin, the Cowboys receivers went from being a weakness to a solid position.  Now, it is by no means the strength of the team and that may be why we see the Cowboys pick up a receiver or two in this draft that is upcoming.  Roy Williams has been a disappointment since his arrival.  His hands have betrayed the usual sure-handed receiver.  He has shown glimpses of why the Cowboys brought him in, but everyone expected more consistency, including Williams.  Between Austin and Williams the Cowboys had 18 TD receptions.  Any team in the NFL will take that between their two starting receivers.  It was Williams play between the 20 yard-lines that had most Cowboys fans disappointed.

The depth behind the two starters is thin at best.  Let’s take a look at all the receivers:

Miles Austin (starter)

Austin was a surprise to everyone.  His combination of speed and athleticism made him Romo’s favourite target out wide.  Austin provides the deep threat the Cowboys need to keep defences honest.  He had a career year with 81 rec, 1320 yards, and 11 TD’s.  If At only 25, if Austin can prove he isn’t a one-year wonder the Cowboys will have a legitimate threat for years.

Roy Williams (starter)

With Austin’s surprise play Williams was demoted to the 2nd receiver spot.  He has great size at 6’3 and surprising speed.  If he can improve his hands and earn Tony Romo’s trust back, he will be fine.  Williams really needs to have a good year to cement his spot with the Cowboys.  Another year of inconsistency and he could be sent packing.

Patrick Crayton

Crayton is the Cowboys firecracker.  He bring emotional intensity and sure hands to the slot receiver spot.  Crayton doesn’t have excellent speed but he does have great route running ability.  He does struggle with separation at times and sometimes disappears from games.  He is a trusted target for Tony Romo and clutch on third downs.  At 31, Crayton still has a couple of good years in him and should be back as the slot guy.

Kevin Ogletree

No other player endeared himself to Cowboys fans as Ogletree.  Fans were begging for Ogletree to get some reps during the season.  He provided such a great showing in the pre-season and then flashed a lot of potential during the games that counted.  Ogletree developed a good report with Romo and showed tremendous speed and elusiveness.  He can return kicks which adds another dimension to his game.  If Ogletree puts in another good camp he could push for even more playing time.  Everyone likes a good story and as an unrestricted free-agent signing, Ogletree is that.

Sam Hurd

Hurd has not developed the way the Cowboys had hoped.  The good thing about Hurd is he is an excellent special teams guy.  Hurd had only 7 catches last season for the Boys and has not yet signed his RFA tender to return to the team.  The Cowboys would like to have him back because duo-role players are tough to fine.  Hurd’s abilities on special teams might land him another roster spot.  After being tutored by Terrell Owens for 3 years, the coaches thought that Hurd’s size and speed would eventually make him a great slot receiver.  His inconsistent route running has been his biggest hurdle.  Hurd will have one more camp to prove he is a legitimate receiver in this league and may be cut loose if he doesn’t show enough.

Other Notables:
Jesse Holley – Long shot to make the team this year.
Manuel Johnson – Has speed but needs to make a good impression.

Potential Draft Picks:

1. Dez Bryant (Okalahoma St) – It is unlikely Bryant will still be on the board for the Cowboys at pick 27, but the Cowboys are very impressed with him.  Bryant fits the mold with his 6’2, 215 frame.  He has great speed and good hands.  He wowed the Cowboys during his visit to Valley Ranch and don’t be surprised if the Cowboys at least talk about making a move for him.  A trade would be unlikely, but Jerry Jones likes him, and what Jerry likes, Jerry usually gets.

2. Arrelious Benn (Illinois) – Benn has great size at 6’2, 225.  Benn suffered by having an inaccurate quarterback at Illinois.  He is a returner as well which helps his case.  He doesn’t have amazing speed, but he is explosive off the line and runs decent routes.  He is a big target and has sure hands.  It is unlikely Benn will fall to 27 in the draft but if he does, the Cowboys may go for him.

3.Brandon LaFell (LSU) – LaFell has good quickness and athleticism for a big receiver.  He won’t blow anyone away with his speed but he has tremendous body control.  One of his best attributes is he is fearless.  He will go over the middle and take the hit if it means making the catch.  One knock on him is his lack of concentration.  LaFell tends to drop the easy passes and with Roy Williams already holding that position on the team, the Cowboys make look to someone a little more sure-handed.

Other Notables:
Mardy Gilyard (Cincinnati) – 6’0, 181 lbs.
Dezmon Briscoe (Kansas) – 6’3, 200 lbs.
Jordan Shipley (Texas) – 5’11, 190 lbs.
Eric Decker (Minnesota) – 6’3, 207 lbs.

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