The Dallas Cowboys have a plethora of wide receivers on its roster, but which ones will step up their game and produce on a high level?
The Dallas Cowboys have one of the best wide receivers in the game in All Pro Dez Bryant when healthy. Last season we witness an injured Bryant limp through the season and miss several games because of broken foot.
To his credit, Bryant fought through the pain and tried to play, but he couldn’t perform at his optimum level.
As a result, the Cowboys shut down Bryant for the rest of the season and the other receivers were exposed as nothing more than second tier wide outs at best, especially Terrance Williams. Slot receiver Cole Beasley had a career year, but the diminutive wideout can only do so much without a dominant number one receiver.
Williams was supposed to take his game to another level in the absence of Bryant, however. Wide Receiver Devin Street was missing in action like a combat veteran.
The most promising receiver not named Dez, Brice Butler, was injured most of the year but showed flashes of being a good wide out and proved why the Cowboys gave up a fifth-round pick for him.
As Dez went down, so did the receiving corps. That was one of the Cowboys main problems in 2015.
Now that Dez is expected to be fully healed, the question is which Cowboys’ receiver will step up their game in 2016?
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Honestly, I believe Williams is a talented receiver with potential to get better, but the former Baylor standout is too inconsistent. Without Bryant there to be the primary focus of opposing defenses, Williams struggled badly as the Cowboys main target. It didn’t help that Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel were beyond inept at the quarterback position.
The issue with Williams is his inconsistency. One game you will watch Williams catch a 10 yard slant and take it to the house for a game-clinching touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles. Then Williams will have a game(s) where he drops passes in key situations, like against the Atlanta Falcons.
On the other hand, Williams has a knack for making fantastic catches in key moments. The best example is in 2014 against the Seattle Seahawks when Williams made a sideline, tip-toe catch on third and long to keep the Cowboys’ drive alive.
DeMarco Murray would score a few plays later to seal the victory for Dallas.
Then there was the game-tying touchdown reception against the New Orleans Saints, a similar toe-dragged catch like the one made against the Seahawks. It was another crucial situation, fourth and long to be exact, where Williams made a spectacular reception.
It is ironic how Williams can make a clutch game-winning touchdown in one game, but then drop the easiest passes and be a no-show in other games.
Williams ability to come through in clutch situations is one reason why he’s the Cowboys #2 receiver. However, if he continues to play inconsistent, there is another receiver who could supplant him as a viable #2 wideout.
Butler has potential to be a really good receiver in the NFL. Standing 6’3, 215 and listed as running a 4.39 40 time out of college, the former 7th rounder has the measureables coaches covets. Although Butler missed several games because of injuries, he averaged 21.5 per reception last season in limited action.
Butler made the best of his time when he recorded 134 yards on eight receptions in the final two games last season.
Those are not eye popping numbers, but its decent and shows that Butler has the skill set to be a better receiver, especially when Bryant is on the other side.
Butler is versatile, too, having the ability to play the “X” position and the slot. All Butler needs is the reps and the ability to stay healthy. The athletic receiver has good hands to go with his break away speed.
With Tony Romo as the quarterback and Bryant on the field, Butler will get his chances to perform and put pressure on Williams as the #2 wide out. The true battle will be between Butler and Williams.
Hopefully, the pressure from Butler will stop the inconsistency play of Williams and give the Cowboys one of the best receiving corps in the NFL.
The rest of the wide receivers
Street will be pushed to the limit in training camp with the addition of these rookie free agents. Entering his third season, Street has done nothing of significance to say the least. For a player standing 6’3 and athletic, much was expected from the former fifth rounder.
Street has one touchdown in his short NFL career.
Street’s career will be even shorter if doesn’t step up his game. The Cowboys’ brass really like Jones, whose signing bonus was $15,000, the largest amount of the rookie free agents. As history has shown with the Cowboys, one of these rookie free agents will make the roster and perform at a decent level.
A good example is Beasley, who is a mismatch hell for defensive backs, and an undrafted free agent.
The reality is a receiver needs to step up and make opposing defenses pay for double-teaming Bryant.
When that happens, the rest of the NFL will take notice and decide how they want to lose on Sunday afternoons to the America’s Team.