Patrick Crayton’s Tenure in Dallas: What’s the Future?
Some players in the NFL are so athletic and explosive that you have no choice but to marvel over their talent. Other players are less naturally-gifted, but still do all of the little things right to succeed. They work hard. They study film. They stay out of trouble.
No one would mistake Cowboys wide receiver Patrick Crayton as falling into anything other than the latter group–and that is okay. For the last few years, Crayton has been one of quarterback Tony Romo’s most reliable targets in Big D. Incredible athleticism is nice, but reliability and consistency are just as important.
After skipping the first two weeks of (voluntary) OTAs, Crayton has returned to Dallas. He is happy to be back, saying, “This is my thing right now: I’m not going to sit here and complain about things I can’t control. If I go out there and give it my all and bust my tail and do what I’m capable of doing, I’ll be here. If that’s not the case when it comes down to it and the numbers get crunched and I’m not here, I don’t know what to tell you. But you’re going to get my all every day.”
There’s really nothing more for which you could ask from any Cowboys player. Despite obvious disappointment about his current role on the team, Crayton is going to wade through the current mess and fight for his job.
We believe Crayton has a role on the offense. Despite the addition of Dez Bryant, the Cowboys don’t have a true slot receiver–other than Crayton. Now, his punt return duties are likely over, but that may be a good thing. Despite returning two punts for touchdowns in 2009, Crayton isn’t exactly Reggie Bush back there (actually, we published an article back in February on why Dallas should make a push for Bush–but that was before he broke up with Kim Kardashian).
Of course, some analysts are projecting Bryant, Kevin Ogletree, and even Miles Austin to receive some significant time in the slot, but all are question marks as of now. In a previous article on Crayton, we wrote:
Roy Williams is obviously not a slot receiver. Dez Bryant is an option, but if he ends up overtaking Williams in the starting lineup (which will obviously happen eventually), he will be playing outside as the X or Z receiver.
The Cowboys could also look at Kevin Ogletree, who we believe has the sort of skill set which most resembles that of the prototypical slot receiver (outside of Crayton). Still, Ogletree is an undrafted second-year player with very limited experience. Can he be trusted as a slot receiver just yet? We believe Crayton’s experience in the slot is alone enough to justify his stay in Big D, as he provides a skill set which we cannot be sure would be present following his potential release.
Crayton apparently disagrees with our assessment, calling himself “an insurance policy” in case one of those players doesn’t pan out or there is a training camp injury.
We disagree. We’ve even gone as far as predicting that Crayton will be one of six Cowboys receivers on the 53-man roster this season.
Make no mistake about it–the Cowboys took Bryant in the first round due to value, not because they were necessarily unhappy with their prior wide receiver corps. In that light, perhaps Bryant is the insurance policy–on Roy Williams.
Let’s not also forget that Crayton is capable of playing special teams, even if he isn’t a return man. This could come in handy, particularly if the Cowboys trade (unlikely) or release Sam Hurd.
Ultimately, Crayton is taking the right approach concerning this matter. He skipped two weeks of OTAs to (understandably) demonstrate his frustration. When push comes to shove, however, Crayton will be on the field in Dallas because he is a Cowboy at heart. You can bet your last dollar that he will do everything possible to retain his job this season. He won’t complain. He won’t be a distraction.
And that’s exactly why you can expect Patrick Crayton to remain in Dallas in 2010.