The Cowboys, needing a safety and offensive line depth, elected to go for a wide receiver with the 24th pick of the first round. Dallas switched first-round picks with the New England Patriots, moving from the 27th overall pick.
In exchange for the 24th selection, Dallas gave up its 90th pick (in the third round) for New England's 119th (in the fourth round).
Bryant, who was in DeSoto, Texas, on Thursday night, hugged his friends and family members as the Cowboys pick was announced on television.
"I'm not disappointed at all," Bryant said of sliding down the draft board. "Me falling to the Cowboys, that's the best thing that could ever happen to me. I'm so happy. I'm excited. I'm ready to go to work."
The selection of the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Bryant means the Cowboys will have a top-three receiving corps of Miles Austin, coming off a 2009 Pro Bowl year, Roy Williams, who has struggled in his two years with the Cowboys, and veteran Patrick Crayton.
"If all goes well -- not trying to talk noise -- but if all goes well, we'll have the best wide receiving corps in the league," Williams said. "Dez is a big dude, he can play. He will help us win some ballgames."
Jones has regretted that decision since, trying to find a permier wide receiver in free agency. He signed Terry Glenn, Keyshawn Johnson, Terrell Owens and traded for Joey Galloway and Williams over the years.
Bryant was considered by many the best receiver in this draft, an All-American in 2008 when he turned 87 receptions into 1,480 yards and 19 touchdowns.
His stock slid after his suspension for lying to the NCAA about his activities with former NFL defensive back Deion Sanders, a suspension that kept him off the field nearly all of last season.
While chants of "Cowboys, Cowboys" rang out at Bryant's party, folks in the Cowboys' draft room were plenty thrilled, too.
"I'm a big fan," Bryant said. "I'm really a Dallas Cowboys now, and that's my dream."
Bryant said there's been no talk yet of what role he'll have, but he's eager for the chance to return punts and kicks. He had two punt returns for touchdowns in 2008.
"I'm very excited to do that," he said. "That was one of the things I love to do."