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Patrick Crayton’s Tenure in Dallas: What’s the Future?

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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.

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8 Responses to Patrick Crayton’s Tenure in Dallas: What’s the Future?

  1. Jared says:

    Obviously, I wasn’t too thrilled with him voicing his opinion over the radio, but if he can accept his role as a #3 receiver, then I’m fine with having him here. Although, i think him being here slows the progression of Kevin Ogletree, Crayton knows the plays, will run the right routes, and most importantly, has the trust of Tony Romo. I hate to use the term “insurance”, but he does provide great depth for the punt return and receiver positions. I think it’s pretty unrealistic to expect Bryant to know the playbook in and out, and like i think you have said before, they’ll probably provide him with more of a package of plays while he’s still learning. Crayton could play any down that you’ll need him. Maybe we’ll even employ some 4 receiver sets? I just hope that he stays quiet, as he’s one of the more “opinionated” players on the team. I feel like Jerry has been moving further away from that in recent years, and for good reason. The Cowboys always have a certain amount of distractions because of who they are, and i’d hate to see that added to by a player who is expendable.

  2. Crayton definitely can sometimes be opinionated, but I have no problem with that as long as he does not become a distraction into training camp. I think his presence at OTAs shows he is now ready to accept his role, whatever that may be.

  3. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    I think Crayton is right – he IS an insurance policy. But, I don’t think that’s a bad thing . . .

    Let’s face it. Roy Williams could come out this year and be real good or he could have a year like last year. If you look at the numbers, Crayton and William’s numbers were identical (except for TD receptions of which Williams had quite a few more). What if Roy isn’t the answer? Does anyone really think Ogletree will be as reliable as Crayton in the slot once Williams is released?

    Crayton should be the #3 for a few years in my opinion. I don’t see the Cowboys trading for or drafting another WR in future drafts for a while.

  4. Jared says:

    I would tend to agree about Roy having a better year. Roy definitely had some drops and probably didn’t have the trust of Romo, but he also wasn’t given a ton of balls thrown his way. If Romo starts to believe in him, Roy has the ability to be a dynamic receiver. I think that’s where Crayton needs to realize some things. Miles is better than Crayton, and Roy is (currently) about the same as him (based on last year) but with way higher potential. We’ve seen the best of what Crayton has to offer. He’s not really going to do anything that we haven’t seen, but we still need him to be a #3. I think as long as Crayton works hard this offseason (which he always does), he’ll be the 3rd receiver on the depth chart. Now, that may change as the year goes on, but that will be on him and how well he’s playing as to whether or not he gets surpassed.

  5. I agree with most things both of you have said, although I’m not sure Crayton will retain the #3 job all season. I am a big believer in Roy Williams’ chances of bouncing back, Miles Austin is the #1, and Dez looks to be the real deal.

    Now, you could argue none is better than Crayton in the slot (which as I pointed out in the article may be the case), but if either Bryant, Austin, or Ogletree shows they can handle slot duties, they all have more explosiveness and upside than Crayton.

  6. john coleman says:

    Dez was taken for value, but he has really energized things. Jerry has always liked a show and Dez is/will be the Big Show. I think Dez or KO have slot skills. Miles should also be able to swing inside no problem. For instance, Ryan and Dez outside with Miles in the slot. Send Ryan deep, Dez to the sideline on an out. Who do you let go? I know Ryan is a reach, but with his speed , he can’t be allowed to run free. So I could see Miles or Dez inside. Crayton is in a tough spot and IMO he is insurance, if these guys fail. However insurance has a purpose and it may be enough to keep him here this year.

  7. I think Crayton’s purpose is still enough to keep him in Dallas this season. Bryant looks outstanding, but he is still a rookie. What if something would happen to Miles? Without Crayton, you’d have to trust Williams and a rookie outside (and of course Witten inside as well).

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