Bryant vs. Moss? It's no comparison
Talented receivers both slid on draft day, but that's where the similarities end
They're both ridiculously talented wide receivers who dropped in the draft due to concerns that had nothing to do with their ability to catch the football.
The Dallas Cowboys passed on Moss in 1998 and didn't take long to regret it. A dozen years later, owner/general manager Jerry Jones traded up to No. 24 overall to make sure he landed Bryant.
Moss, whose 14,465 receiving yards and 148 touchdowns rank among the best in NFL history, is well on his way to the Hall of Fame. It's too early to start working on Bryant's bust after one rookie minicamp, but the Cowboys certainly believe he has that type of potential.
"The sky's the limit for this kid," Dallas receivers coach Ray Sherman said.
Sherman, however, shies away from the Moss comparison for Bryant. He doesn't think it's fair to portray the Cowboys' first-round pick as a player with serious character concerns.
The Moss-Bryant comparison gets shaky when examining their off-field issues and personalities.
"No similarities as far as that," said Sherman, who coached Moss as the Minnesota Vikings' offensive coordinator in 1999. "Not at all."
Moss pled guilty to a misdemeanor battery charge after a high school fight, costing him a scholarship to Notre Dame. He was dismissed from Florida State the following year after testing positive for marijuana, leading to his transfer to Marshall.
Bryant survived an extremely difficult childhood. His mother had him when she was 15 years old and later served an 18-month prison term for drug dealing. But he's never been arrested or accused of using drugs.
Bryant's most troubling off-field issue is his tendency to be tardy. His most infamous off-field issue was the suspension that cost him almost all of his junior season at Oklahoma State, the result of lying to NCAA investigators about his relationship with ex-Cowboy Deion Sanders, which otherwise was not found to violate any rules.
That caused Bryant to be considered a "character risk" by many teams and media members.
"I just feel like those are the people that don't know Dez Bryant," Bryant said. "The people that do know Dez Bryant know that I'm a great person. I don't get into trouble. I've never committed a crime. I've never had trouble with the law. I don't do drugs. For me I feel like I'm a good person."
Oklahoma State receivers coach Gunter Brewer, who also coached Moss at Marshall, said Moss and Bryant both tend to shy away from the spotlight.
However, Bryant doesn't have a reputation for brooding, as Moss does, which helps explain why the future Hall of Famer is playing for his third NFL franchise, the New England Patriots.
Despite his difficult childhood, Bryant has a happy-go-lucky personality. Sherman noted that he got no sense of ego or arrogance during Bryant's pre-draft visit.
"He's very personable," Sherman said. "He's a class young man. He's a 'yes, sir, no, sir' type of young man. He wants to do it right."
Hall of Famer Michael Irvin, who visited Valley Ranch during the rookie minicamp to see the kid who will wear his No. 88, was impressed with the way Bryant vocally encouraged the undrafted wide receivers during a workout. Brewer tells stories about Bryant's interaction with children, whether it's signing hundreds of autographs or appearing at charity events.
"He's got that big smile and a huge heart," said Brewer, who believes the Cowboys are a perfect fit for Bryant in part because Sherman develops personal relationships with his players. "This can be a great thing for the NFL, as far as turning a negative into a positive."
From a pure football perspective, the Moss-Bryant comparisons aren't perfect, either.
They're both playmaking receivers who make acrobatic catches look easy and defensive backs whiff in the open field.
"Both of them have that quick twitch where they can explode down the field," Sherman said, "but they also have the ability to make you miss."
However, their styles are different. Moss' best asset has always been pure speed. Bryant is a 4.5 40 guy who relies on power and will run the routes across the middle that many receivers, including Moss, would rather avoid.
They both have outrageous leaping ability and body control, allowing them to make cornerbacks with good coverage look helpless on fades and downfield throws. But according to Brewer, Bryant is actually better than Moss in such situations.
"As far as the jump ball goes, Dez is the best that I've ever seen," Brewer said.
"When it's just him and a defensive back going up in the end zone, I've never really seen him lose one of those. He just has an uncanny way of using his size and jumping ability and strong hands to snatch the ball."
Jones wasn't interested in weighing in on the Moss-Bryant comparison. He insisted that Moss' success over the last dozen years didn't influence his decision to draft Bryant.
"Dez Bryant stands on his own," Jones said.
The Cowboys are confident they won't regret this draft-day decision regarding a talented, controversial wide receiver.