Dwayne Harris has endured a lot through his brief NFL career. After putting up some amazing statistics at ECU without a quarterback who could consistently get the ball down the field, Harris fell in the 2011 NFL Draft. The Dallas Cowboys thought they found themselves a value and selected Harris in the sixth round. After a memorable performance against the Denver Broncos in the pre-season, Harris never continued that momentum and was cut in October and signed to the practice squad. The Cowboys wisely signed him back to the active roster in December so another team wouldn't poach him off of the practice squad.
Entering the 2012 season, Harris wasn't a frontrunner to become the winner of the #3 wide receiver job that was brewing in training camp. Jerry Jones loved Andre Holmes, while Kevin Ogletree was the default option because of his "experience and familiarity" with the offense. Holmes flamed out and never made any noise, but the reports out of Oxnard suggested that Harris looked faster and quicker. Many credited that Harris' conditioning and stamina had drastically improved. After another memorable pre-season performance, this time against the St. Louis Rams, Harris was on pace to make a contribution for the Cowboys.
Ogletree had a huge game in Week 1, so Harris was stashed down the depth chart and quietly waited for his opportunity. While Ogletree struggled with inconsistency and mistakes, Harris made contributions on special teams. He surpassed Dez Bryant as the primary punt returner and eventually earned a larger role with the offense. Towards the end of the season, Harris was finally overtaking Ogletree as the #3 wide receiver. It's a shame he didn't get the ball more towards the end of the season because Harris looks like he has all of the tools to become a consistent playmaker. There weren't too many positives to take away from the end of the season, but Harris left a lasting impression that could carry over into 2013.
I would love to see the Cowboys add another wide receiver in the draft, but Harris has a huge opportunity to become one of the breakout players on the Cowboys in 2013. With Ogletree out of Dallas, Harris is in line take that #3 wide receiver role and run with it. Harris only ran a 4.51 40 yard dash at his ECU pro day, but he's very quick. His route running is smooth and crisp, and he is very quick in and out of his breaks. Harris has good hands and he's a physical receiver who doesn't quit and hustles on every play. Whether it's on special teams or on the regular offense, Harris just has this natural ability of going out there and making plays.
Harris will be entering his third NFL season, which just happens to be the year where NFL wide receivers tend to breakout and elevate take their game to the next level. Does Harris have what it takes to become an even better player and follow up his 2012 season with a larger role with the offense?
It won't be easy for Harris. He's not going to have Jimmy Robinson coaching him anymore and will have to learn from a new wide receivers coach. It's never easy for a young player to build on his strong play the season before, but if anyone on this team can do it, then it's Dwayne Harris.