NFL draft: Here’s hoping Pioli and Chiefs select Dez Bryant
By Jason Whitlock
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — I want Dez Bryant.
He's the apple of my draft eye, the big-time playmaker capable of making life easier for Matt Cassel, Charlie Weis and Todd Haley and Sundays a lot more exciting inside Arrowhead Stadium.
Dez Bryant, the Oklahoma State receiver, is the second-most-talented player in this draft, behind only Nebraska defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh.
Bryant, according to all of the expert-generated mock drafts, isn't worthy of the No. 5 pick. He's slated to go as high as No. 7 to the Cleveland Browns (ESPN's Mel Kiper) and as low as No. 22 to the New England Patriots (NFL.com's Pat Kirwan).
The Chiefs pick at No. 5 on Thursday night in the NFL draft.
I want Dez Bryant. And I don't care how the Chiefs get him.
If Scott Pioli tabs him with the fifth pick, I won't complain. If Pioli trades down three or five or 10 slots in hopes of grabbing Bryant at a more appropriate location, I won't complain if things go wrong and another team surprises Pioli and nabs Bryant.
I want Dez Bryant. I'm aware of his baggage. He had a dysfunctional upbringing. He admits to being troubled by his mother's decision to live openly as a lesbian. Deion Sanders has been Bryant's mentor the last few years. Bryant's involvement with Sanders ruined the receiver's final season at Oklahoma State. And last year Sanders played a role in San Francisco rookie Michael Crabtree's long, pointless contract holdout.
I still want Dez Bryant.
In nearly two decades of covering Chiefs football, I've yet to see the team field an in-his-prime, big-time receiver. They've had tight end Tony Gonzalez, quarterback Trent Green, running backs Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson, linemen Willie Roaf, Will Shields and Brian Waters.
Their best receiver? A washed-up Andre Rison.
Yeah, I want Dez Bryant. Had he not gotten in a jam with Sanders and played a full season, Bryant would be a clear-cut top-five pick. He's a problem-solver. He can return kicks and punts. He's big (6 feet 2, 225 pounds), strong, fast, durable and elusive after the catch.
The NFL is a passing league. At some point, the Chiefs have to find their diva receiver, their Randy Moss, Hines Ward, Marvin Harrison, Larry Fitzgerald or Terrell Owens.
We hoped it would be Sylvester Morris or Dwayne Bowe. It just hasn't happened. It's time to try again.
As much as I love offensive linemen and respect their value, I'm going to be highly disappointed if the Chiefs take the safe pick of Trent Williams or Bryan Bulaga. You can build/develop good offensive linemen. For the most part, you have to draft high-impact skill-position playmakers up high.
If Dez Bryant turns into the next Andre Johnson, the Pro Bowl Houston receiver, the Chiefs will regret passing on Bryant.
The other option at No. 5 is Tennessee safety Eric Berry (or Texas safety Earl Thomas). I love any defender who is compared to Baltimore safety Ed Reed, so I have no choice but to be a fan of Berry's. Ed Reed is the best safety in football. He's never played in a Super Bowl.
The best receivers (Moss, Fitzgerald, Harrison, Owens, Ward) all seem to find their way to the Super Bowl.
I'm all for building a great defense. We saw Dick Vermeil's Chiefs get foiled by a poor defense year after year.
Bryant just solves more problems than Berry does. Bryant's return ability strengthens KC's special teams play, too. Field position impacts both sides of a football team. Bryant could help the offense and the defense.
As for Bryant's emotional and maturity issues? Well, we've heard all offseason the Chiefs have the best coaching staff money can buy. Let Haley, Weis and Romeo Crennel earn all those Clark Hunt millions. This staff is experienced and highly decorated. Bill Parcells handled Lawrence Taylor. Bill Belichick has handled Moss. Parcells and Belichick schooled damn near everyone of any consequence on the Chiefs' coaching and executive staff.
I want Dez Bryant.