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Cowboys OTAs: Dak Prescott says he doesn’t really need a #1 WR

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The receiver-by-committee approach is being embraced by quarterback Dak Prescott.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys-OTA Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

We know the Cowboys have changed up their receiving corps. It feels like they are looking for good route-runners who will be in position when Dak Prescott progresses through his reads. This appears to be a very important thing for Dak, who operates a little differently than Tony Romo did.

Part of the Dak-friendly movement has been to find receivers who will be in the right spots at the right times. With run-pass options, receivers have to be precise with their routes and their timing. That was not a strength of Dez Bryant, who had some of his success with Romo based on reading and reacting.

“One of Dak’s strongest points has been his progressions,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “He likes to read through a progression -- one, two, three, four. He likes to do that and get it to the right player rather than maybe have pressure to get to a player.”

So with the new group, minus Dez Bryant, Dak Prescott is okay.

[Dez Bryant’s] departure leaves the Cowboys without a true No. 1 receiver.

That suits quarterback Dak Prescott just fine.

Let’s address the first thing here - when are people going to quit trying to pretend that Dez Bryant was a #1 wide receiver over the last three years? This is just lazy. If Dez Bryant was a #1 WR, then Allen Hurns was a #1 WR. See the stats for yourself.

Bryant vs. Hurns, 2015-2017
Player Games played Receptions Yards Touchdowns
Dez Bryant 38 150 2,035 17
Allen Hurns 36 138 1,993 15

You can say that Dez was being double-covered while Hurns was not, but if you watch the 2017 tape, you’ll see that wasn’t really true for Dez, Also, Hurns had Blake Bortles as his QB, that offsets any other claims in Bryant's favor. Not that this is too important anymore, but the claim that Dez was some kind of #1 receiver in the past few years just doesn’t match up with the stats, or when you watch the film. Also, if he’s a #1 WR that is so coveted, why hasn’t anybody signed him yet?

We can debate that all we want, but Allen Hurns thinks he can be a #1 WR, even if the rest of us don’t.

“Of course I feel I can be the No. 1 receiver, I feel I can play any of the three positions,” said Hurns, who the Cowboys signed during free agency after he was released by Jacksonville. “I can run any routes.”

Not having a true #1 WR doesn’t seem to bother Prescott.

“I don’t know if any team in the league necessarily needs a No. 1 receiver,” Prescott said. “It’s about getting the ball out, spreading the ball around, keeping the defense on its toes.”

Perhaps the key to this thing is Dak and the receivers running as many routes together as they can.

“I mean the only thing you can do is just get out there with routes on air, things like that,” Prescott said. “We did a bunch together. Me and these young guys have been here before we even started OTAs, getting that timing down so we can get in OTAs and have good feel for each other and now with the defense in front of us, grow off of that and grow from what we’ve already accomplished. That’s the best thing I can do.”

For those who think the Cowboys WR corps is one of the worst in the league, Deonte Thompson has a message.

“I’m excited to be in a group of guys who are hungry and want to prove the world wrong,” Thompson said. “I don’t really have too much social media stuff, so I barely hear it, but we know what they say. But we’ll be having this discussion in November, and it will be totally different.”

The Cowboys are operating under a new style of offense to suit the talents of their quarterback. Dez Bryant was the kind of receiver that required a quarterback to take risks, to throw him open. That was a perfect fit for Tony Romo’s game. Prescott is a more conservative quarterback, he wants to go through his progressions until he finds an open man. He wants precise route-runners that can get their own separation. As previously mentioned, this is very important as you run more run-pass options. Also if you run more quick-hit type of passing. The Cowboys are accommodating him. Now we just have to see if it works.