Two years ago, he caught 69 balls while almost exclusively facing double-coverage. He was an All-American that year, as well as the Biletnikoff Award winner, given each year to the nation's top receiver.
Even more impressive is that those numbers came from his sophomore season. In fact, only Antonio Bryant and current NFL star Randy Moss ever captured the Biletnikoff award as a sophomore.
|WR Antonio Bryant|
Interestingly enough, Bryant wasn't even highly recruited as a Miami high school player. He was completely ignored by the big three Florida schools, and was only offered to go to either Pitt or Louisville on a full scholarship. But once he arrived on campus, he immediately became a big time player in the Big East Conference. Bryant broke the school career receiving record with 3,061 yards and he scored 30 touchdowns and had 13 100-yard receiving games in three seasons.
This past year, he rebounded from a slow start due to an ankle injury in the season opener to lead the Panthers to a season-ending six game winning streak and bowl win over North Carolina State. For the season, he finished with 42 catches for 760 yards and nine touchdowns and was named MVP of Pittsburgh's bowl game.
The downside to Bryant is his off the field problems. Some scouts feel like he could be a disruptive player in the locker room, and that he might have a hard time adjusting to the NFL game. In fact, he was suspended on three occasions by Pittsburgh Head Coach Walt Harris, ranging from missing winter work out sessions to arguing with players and coaches. Consequently his stock has fallen, and may experts are now thinking that there is a good chance he could be available to the Cowboys in the second round.
That leads us to the all-important question. Should Jerry Jones pull the trigger and draft Antonio Byrant? The answer is an emphatic yes.
Bryant represents the true NFL wide receiver, with height, speed, hands, and the little something extra that demands constant attention from the defense. Watching him on film, you can easily see why he is an explosive playmaker, with "take it to the house" type of speed.
He is a smooth route runner, and a tough downfield blocker. And of course, he would be the perfect fit with current set of Cowboy wide outs, Rocket Ismial and Joey Galloway.
Furthermore, you could easily draw the comparison to former Cowboy standout Michael Irvin, and we all saw what he was able to accomplish in his career. We've seen the Cowboys put together a strong defense over the course of the last year and a half, now it is now time to focus on the offense. If Antonio Bryant is available in the second round, the Cowboys have no choice but to take him.
He's worth the risk, and with a little maturity, the sky is the limit with this kid. Make no mistake, if drafted, he'll give the Dallas Cowboys that extra spark that will be so desperately needed in 2002.