We’ve been hearing all winter and spring about how Dez Bryant‘s character concerns are going cause him to fall on draft day.
In fact, the rumors have become so rampant that some are saying it has been blown out of proportion by teams lower in the draft trying to cause him to fall. Bryant’s defenders point to the fact that he’s never been in trouble with the law, and that his issues are far smaller than those of players who enter the draft with criminal backgrounds.
In a sense, they’re right. There’s no reason to believe that Bryant will do anything to get himself suspended in the NFL. He’s never been in legal trouble and there have been no indications that he’s even the type of person who puts himself in situations where bad things tend to happen (i.e. at a night club at 3am).
However, Bryant’s character flaws may actually be more concerning than anyone with a checkered past.
Teams are concerned with Bryant’s work ethic. In college he had a tendency to show up late for everything – meetings, practice and even games. That alone raises a huge red flag.
In the NFL players with off-field character concerns typically get second, third and fourth chances because it rarely impacts their play on the field. Take Terrell Owens for example. He presents a significant off-field risk to any team he plays for, however, his work ethic is so impressive that teams are willing to take a chance. No matter what he does or says away from the field, teams can count on him to be in top physical condition in order to perform on game day.
That cannot be said for a player like Bryant. Teams are genuinely worried that he will have a difficult learning curve in the NFL because of his lack of work ethic. Wide receivers rarely make a significant impact in the NFL before their 3rd year in the league. Its perhaps the slowest developing position in the game. Factor in Bryant’s work ethic and you could be looking at an even longer time frame before he develops into the elite receiver that he has the potential to become.
The NFL has a “win-now” attitude. Most coaches and general managers don’t have the job security to look three years down the road. For this reason, fewer receivers are being selected high in the draft.
This mind set could cause Bryant to fall on draft day. It could also lead to him being selected by one of the few organizations that does provide job security to its decision makers such as the Steelers or Patriots.