There’s no doubt that if Dez Bryant stays out of trouble while Mario Austin stays healthy, the Dallas Cowboys have a pretty good situation going for them at wide receiver. Beyond that? The number 3 option is up for grabs, with rookie Terrance Williams expecting to claim that spot.
Dwyane Harris would have been the favorite before the draft. The 3rd year receiver out of East Carolina caught 17 passes for 222 yards, but seems to be falling behind Williams in pretty much every aspect early in the preseason.
Williams, coming out of Baylor, enjoying a huge season in 2012 (1832 yards, most in the nation), is bigger and at 6’2 and 202 pounds offers a bigger frame and better ball skills than Harris, who might be the quicker option, but the Cowboys prefer Austin in the slot in any case, and would like to have Romo throwing the ball to a big target like Williams in any case.
Williams is also of a higher draft stock. The Cowboys had him as the 23rd best player on their draft board, but ended up “stealing” him in the third round with the 74th pick. While Harris has his uses in special offensive packages and obviously in the punt return (led the NFC in average last season), they see Williams as the guy who is more capable of coming up with the big plays when Bryant, Austin and Witten draw most of the attention.
Obviously, the Cowboys are basing most of their hopes in 2013 on Dez Bryant having the kind of second-half in 2012 (over 800 yards, 10 touchdowns), but one receiver doesn’t make an offense. While Jason Witten should continue to be as reliable as possible, Mario Austin remaining healthy while remaining mostly rested through through the week might be the real X-factor in the Cowboys’ passing game. If Williams actually becomes the big-play guy the Cowboys are hoping he will, that’s the best bonus they could have asked for.