Dallas Cowboys: How Allen Hurns is an upgrade over Dez Bryant

JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 19: Allen Hurns #88 of the Jacksonville Jaguars carries the ball during the third quarter of the game against the Cleveland Browns at EverBank Field on October 19, 2014 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 19: Allen Hurns #88 of the Jacksonville Jaguars carries the ball during the third quarter of the game against the Cleveland Browns at EverBank Field on October 19, 2014 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys essentially replaced Dez Bryant with Allen Hurns. Here’s how Hurns is (and isn’t) an upgrade to Dez and how the Cowboys are better off.

Fans were divided when the Dallas Cowboys parted ways with their top receiver, Dez Bryant, this offseason. Some saw him as an aging weapon who no longer possessed the skills to compensate for his distracting sideline behavior. While others still saw him as a clear WR1 with his statistical decline being a product of poor passing more than personal decline.

Whatever camp you side with, the reality is he’s gone. And it’s pretty clear he’s not coming back under any circumstance. Moving forward, we look at how his expected replacement at the X spot, Allen Hurns, compares to Bryant. Best of all, we explain why it’s a change for the better.

Allen Hurns vs Dez Bryant: The measurables

On paper, Allen Hurns pales in comparison to Dez Bryant. Hurns, 6’1” 201lbs with a clocked 4.55 40 time, is shorter, thinner, and slower than the man he’s expected to replace (Bryant, 6’2” 225lbs 4.52 40 time).

*While his NFL player profile says Hurns is 6’3”, his actual height at the Combine was 73.25 inches, which translates to 6’1 ¼”. Barring a temporary pituitary gland disorder, it’s likely his NFL profile is incorrect since the pre-draft measurables have been well vetted.

At age 26, it’s possible Hurns has athletically held up better than the 29-year-old Bryant. But by all accounts, Bryant measures better in virtually all ways, so it would take one hell of a regression from Dez to bridge the gap athletically.

Allen Hurns vs Dez Bryant: Durability and statistically

Both players have missed their share of games. Over the past three seasons, Allen Hurns has missed 12 games while Dez Bryant has missed 10. Despite the missed games, it would be misleading to call either player fragile. Both play extremely physically and both take considerably more punishment than your typical receiver. That’s essentially what makes them good at what they do.

Statistically, Hurns has 138 catches for 1,992 yards over the past three seasons. Bryant has 150 for 2,035 yards during the same stretch. So in games played Bryant averages 53.55 yards per game and Hurns averages 55.33 per game. This is all strikingly similar production.

Allen Hurns vs Dez Bryant: The intangibles

Here is where the two separate themselves. While Dez is the goal line king and jump ball champ, he’s wildly inconsistent in his routes. It’s been said Dez could run the same route a dozen times and no two would ever look the same.

This type of improv may have worked with Tony Romo, but Dak Prescott is more like Troy Aikman who values consistency. Prescott wants to know where you’re going to be and when you’re going to be there. Granted, he’s not as accurate as Aikman was, but he operates the same calculated way (BTW: The accuracy issues are way overblown with Dak).

Hurns has made a living with his routes. Since joining the Jaguars as an undrafted free agent, Hurns has become one of the NFL’s most consistent route-runners. When he runs a route, you know where he’ll be and when he’ll be there. Considering the Dallas Cowboys will be incorporating plenty of run-pass option (RPO) this season, that type of consistency is paramount.

Related Story: Explaining the Run-Pass Option in the NFL

That’s why the Dallas Cowboys passed over so many physically impressive receivers in the draft, opting instead for one of the most polished pass-catchers in the draft in Michael Gallup.

Despite being shorter and lighter than Dez, Hurns is every bit as physical. Perhaps that’s why we all believe those reports that say he’s 6’3”. Hurns just plays bigger (A far cry from Terrance Williams who stands 6’2” but seems to play 5’10”).

We can’t expect Allen Hurns to provide the same jaw-dropping plays that Dez Bryant awed us with. But we also shouldn’t expect less-than-perfect execution, low effort, or sideline blow-ups from Hurns either.

With all things considered, at the very least we should see similar production in the statistics column from Hurns. But all indications are that we’ll see it on less targets at a higher success rate – which could provide an enormous boost to this offense.

Next: Why we still care about Randy Gregory

Dez Bryant and Allen Hurns are very different players with very different strengths and weaknesses. But it’s Hurns’ strengths that should make the difference in the Cowboys’ new RPO-heavy offense this season. Hurns will be more efficient with fewer opportunities than Dez and that will be a huge boost to this Dallas Cowboys’ offense.