|Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio talk about their interaction with Dez Bryant before the 2010 draft||10.11.11 at 4:01 pm ET|
So, how close did the Patriots come to drafting Dez Bryant? I asked both coach Bill Belichick and director of player personnel Nick Caserio Tuesday afternoon about their pre-draft interaction with the occasionally controversial wide receiver, who was the focus of several character questions in the months leading up to the 2010 draft.
New England had Bryant in for a meeting before the draft that year, but ultimately ended up passing on the receiver, who ended up going to the Cowboys … who are set to visit Gillette Stadium this week for their first regular-season to Foxboro since 2003.
“We definitely did our work on Bryant,” Belichick said. “I think the things that we see: he’s a big receiver, a strong guy, hard to match up on outside, hard guy to tackle after the catch. He’s got, like a lot of these receivers, it seems like we see one every week that have outstanding size or they’re very strong, they have great reach and even if you have them covered, you really don’t have them covered because of their length and their ability to either body-up the defender or just out-jump them or out-reach them for the ball. He’s definitely in that category and a hard guy to tackle when he gets the ball in his hands.”
“There’s no question he was an explosive player — similar to what he’s done so far with Dallas,” recalled Caserio. “He makes a bunch of big plays. He had a bunch of big plays early against the Jets and a number of big players early against – I think it was a Washington game – had a couple touchdowns early. He’s a talented player [and] somebody that we will certainly have to figure how to defend come Sunday.”
Bryant was available at No. 24, but the Patriots ended up trading the pick to Dallas instead and selecting cornerback Devin McCourty at No. 27. The 6-foot-2, 218-pound Bryant has 55 catches in just 15 career games with the Cowboys, including 10 through three games this season, while McCourty was a Pro Bowler in his rookie season in New England.
“I think where you pick in that particular situation, there’s a handful of players that you think about picking in some capacity. Trades if they happen, they happen,” Caserio said. “In the end, we make a decision that we feel is the best for our team. I’m sure Dallas is happy with the pick they made and I would say we’re thrilled with the player we have in our program, so I think it’s worked out for both teams.”
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