Dallas Cowboys: 5 Reasons Dez Bryant Is Ready to Be NFC East's Best WR

Chris Hummer@chris_hummerAnalyst IJune 7, 2012

Dallas Cowboys: 5 Reasons Dez Bryant Is Ready to Be NFC East's Best WR

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    Dez Bryant is ready to take his game to the next level for the Dallas Cowboys and will become the NFC East's best wide receiver by the end of the next season.

    Bryant's first two years with the Cowboys were good, but the former first-round pick hasn't quite lived up to the superstar potential he displayed coming out of Oklahoma State.

    Dallas needs him to ascend to the elite level this season if it hopes to reach the playoffs, and Bryant is ready to make it happen.

    So, here are five reasons why Bryant is ready to become the NFC East's best wideout this season, ahead of the likes of DeSean Jackson and Hakeem Nicks

Dez Is in Much Better NFL Game Shape

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    Last season Dez Bryant would make numerous big play catches in the first half of games, but when the third and fourth quarters came around, he would often disappear.

    Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones thinks that might have had something to do with Bryant's conditioning.

    “When he would lose concentration in the last part of the game, I don’t know if that was because of conditioning. I suspect it could’ve been, Jones told ESPN.

    “That’s not be critical, but I suspect that, rather (than) the injury had anything to do with that or not, those are the things that we’re working on so he can be more impactful in the latter part of the game and we can do the kinds of things we need to do to get him the ball.”

    However, Bryant has gone to work this offseason with Cowboys' strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicik and he has his body fat down to 3.1 percent, as he bragged on Twitter last week.

    Bryant's new-found conditioning should serve him well during the wear and tear of the NFL season. It will help him stay on the field longer and should prevent some minor injuries, something that Bryant has struggled with early in his career.

    It should also guarantee that Cowboys fans will get to see Bryant make just as many impactful plays in the second half of games as he does in the first in 2012.

Bryant Has Worked This Offseason Instead of Making Headlines

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    Last offseason Dez Bryant was making headlines for all of the wrong reasons.

    First, Bryant was ejected from a local Dallas mall and given a criminal trespass warning after he and the officers on site got into an argument over Bryant's sagging pants. This news made local and national news and showed that Bryant had a lot of growing up to do.

    Shortly after the mall incident, it came out that that Bryant's longtime mentor and former Cowboys great Deion Sanders had parted ways with Bryant, citing Bryant's immaturity and calling his actions at the mall "ignorant."

    Coming out of college Bryant's character was a huge issue to teams and was a big reason he fell all the way the No. 24 pick in the 2010 draft. Despite being considered the best wide receiver in his class by many.

    But this offseason Bryant has stayed out of the limelight and has gone to work.

    "A lot of it has to do with off-the-field stuff, and typically that translates into on-the-field stuff," Garrett said. "It's just constant work on our part with all of our young players and really throughout our whole football team to get what we want from them, and Dez is no different."

    Bryant is doing everything correctly this spring and summer and his new-found maturity has allowed him to focus on football instead of creating off-the-field issues. That focus should serve him well next season as the hard work he has put in should pay dividends.

    Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/2012/05/23/3982685/dez-bryant-hopes-to-shake-injuries.html#storylink=cpy
    He has worked hard to improve his conditioning and is doing everything better than he did during his rookie year or last season. 

He Is Ready to Become a Leader

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    One of the greatest signs of maturity for a player is when they go from being one of the young guys to developing into a leader for the team.

    Dez Bryant is ready to make that leap this season.

    Behind Miles Austin and Bryant the Cowboys will feature a young group wideouts that will be looking to fill the hole left behind by Laurent Robinson, who left in free agency to join the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    It will be up to Bryant and Austin to mentor this young group and Bryant feels like he is leading by example this offseason.

    “I just feel like I’m stepping up, doing my job, being accountable, making sure that I’m doing the right things so the people that are under me can do the right things,” Bryant said, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “So you can say, somewhat of a leader.”

    Bryant might not be the most vocal player on the Cowboys roster as far as leadership goes, but the maximum effort he puts into every rep in practice can rub off on his teammates.

    This conscious effort to give his all every practice is good for Bryant and the Cowboys for two reasons.

    First, it shows the younger players that even a star like Bryant comes to work everyday in practice, and despite his talent and status, he still isn't satisfied.

    And second for Bryant, it means that he is working his butt off every day in camp, which can only make him better moving forward.

The Cowboys' Previous No. 88 Struggled Early in His Career Too

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    Dez Bryant's numbers were OK his first two seasons, but not great. His rookie year he went for 561 yards and six touchdowns and followed that up last season with a 928-yard, nine-touchdown performance.

    While his numbers weren’t instantly spectacular out of college, Bryant is not alone on his slow assent to greatness.

    Actually, many great NFL receivers have taken a few seasons to adjust to the pro game before breaking out, including Terrell Owens, Marvin Harrison and Wes Welker—each of whom took three or four seasons to reach the 1,000 yard mark for the first time.

    This list also includes Bryant's predecessor in the Cowboy's No. 88 jersey, Michael Irvin.

    Actually, Irvin struggled the first three seasons of his career reeling in pedestrian yardage totals of 654, 378 and 413 yards from 1988-1990.

    Like Bryant, Irvin struggled early on in his career with injuries, missing a total of 16 games in his first three years in Dallas. But, in 1992 Irvin had his first fully healthy season and he broke out for his first 1,000-yard campaign, when he went for 1,523 yards and eight touchdowns.

    That season he and third-year quarterback Troy Aikman finally clicked, and we all know how that worked out.

    Bryant is actually ahead of Irvin's schedule. He has already has established a rapport with quarterback Tony Romo and has proven that he can play at the NFL level. He just needs to find the extra drive to take the next step.

    If he does, he could find his own No. 88 jersey hanging next to Irvin’s in the Cowboys rafters at the end of his career.

With His Maturation Bryant's Phisyical Tools Will Finally Be on Full Display

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    There has never been any doubt about Dez Bryant's physical tools. He is an explosive athlete with soft hands, incredible ball skills and the size at 6'2", 218 pounds to tower over most corners.

    Bryant’s 4.5 speed also allows him to stretch defenses and his 38-inch vertical helps him go over the top of pretty much any defensive back.

    He has a rare set of physical tools that few players share in the league, and the top receivers in the NFL share those same traits. You need not look any farther than the Larry Fitzgerald, for example. 

    Bryant has the ability to ascend to that elite level, and he should make that jump this season. And Bryant has done everything in his power this this offseason to ensure that it happens.

    He has given it his all at every practice, attacked the weight room, studied hours of film to improve his route running and has worked hard to establish a connection with Tony Romo.

    Bryant has done everything right this offseason, and if you combine that work with his talented skill set, it should equal a breakout season.

    When the Cowboys finish game No. 16 this coming season, it won’t be just another solid year for Bryant. His natural physical ability and work ethic will have transformed him into the best wide receiver in the NFC East.

    He has more natural talent than Victor Cruz. He is more explosive in his route running than Hakeem Nicks and can do more overall than the speedy DeSean Jackson.

    Bryant has all of the skills anyone could want in a wideout, and this is the year he puts them all on display.