Bryant?s stock could fluctuate as much as anyone?s in the draft, as he could get taken as high as sixth overall or somewhere in the second round. The Patriots, meanwhile, could be in the market for Bryant?s services if he tumbles through the first round.
The 6-foot-2, 224-pounder caught 147 passes for 2,425 yards and 29 touchdowns in 27 games over the course of three seasons. Bryant was at his best as a sophomore, when he caught 87 passes for 1,480 yards and 19 touchdowns in 13 games and was a consensus All-American. He also returned three punts for touchdowns in his career.
Why the Patriots Would Want Him
Bryant is physically gifted enough to be a No. 1 wide receiver for years. He?s got very strong hands, adequate speed and runs the right routes. The thinking is that Bryant could be a top-10 pick, and if he slides, he?d present tremendous value at No. 22. Even though Bryant and Wes Welker don?t line up at the same position, the Patriots do have an immediate need at wide receiver due to Welker?s injury. New England also has a long-term need, as Randy Moss is entering the final year of his contract.
Why the Patriots Might Stay Away
The 22-year-old lied to the NCAA about his connection to former NFL star Deion Sanders after the pair worked out and ate lunch together, and Bryant was suspended for the final 10 games of his junior season. It?s the lying part that alarms NFL teams. After witnessing a constant stream of episodes from Terrell Owens, Brandon Marshall, Michael Crabtree and plenty of others, teams might not want the headache of dealing with a wide receiver who has yet to mature. Fair or not, Bryant has been lumped in with that stereotype of wideouts.
Plus, Bill Belichick isn?t a fan of paying high prices for wide receivers. He has won in the past with hard workers who have an excellent understanding of the game, including Troy Brown (eighth-round draft pick), David Patten (undrafted), Deion Branch (second-rounder), David Givens (seventh-rounder) and Welker (undrafted). Basically, it?s not really Belichick?s style to use a first-round pick on a wide receiver. Even further than that, the Patriots have to address more important issues on the defensive side of the ball.
Potential Impact in 2010
Bryant is physically ready to step on the field and contribute immediately. If he lined up across from Moss, Bryant would likely have the benefit of playing against the defense?s second best cornerback, and that is something Tom Brady could exploit. However, the real key would lie within Bryant?s ability to get on the same page with Brady, and that can be a tough learning curve for young receivers to handle.
What They?re Saying
The headline says it all: "Dez Bryant: The next Randy Moss?"
Likelihood Bryant Is Available at No. 22
It?s certainly not out of the realm of possibility, but the chances are probably less than 50 percent. There are nearly a dozen teams ahead of the Patriots that could take Bryant, but nearly all of those teams have a more pressing need than wide receiver.