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Dez release reinforces Demaryius was better choice

Demaryius and Dez were selected two picks apart in the first round.
Credit: Dustin Bradford
Demaryius Thomas #88 of the Denver Broncos scores a 17-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 12, 2013

KUSA – Demaryius got ‘em.

Demaryius got Dez.

It’s been Demaryius and Dez, Dez and Demaryius since the 2010 NFL Draft.

They were selected two picks apart in the first round. They both took the No. 88. They were both established five seasons into their career as two of the best receivers in the league. At that point, Demaryius and Dez both received five-year, $70 million contract extensions.

But finally, Demaryius got separation on Dez.

John Elway has decided to bring Demaryius Thomas back for a ninth season while Cowboys owner Jerry Jones released Dez Bryant on Friday.

It can be unequivocally stated Josh McDaniels, Brian Xanders and the Broncos made the correct choice when they picked Demaryius instead of Dez. The numbers say so.

Player ……………........ Pick … Rec ….... YD … TD … SB

Demaryius Thomas …... 22 …. 629 … 8,653 … 57 ...… 2

Dez Bryant ……………... 24 …. 531 … 7,459 … 73 ...… 0

In Thomas’ first Super Bowl appearance following the 2013 season, his Broncos got destroyed by Seattle, but he set a Super Bowl-record with 13 catches. In his second Super Bowl appearances, Thomas had just one catch but he came away with a ring.

Credit: Tom Pennington, 2015 Getty Images
Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the New York Jets in the second quarter at AT&T Stadium on December 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.

Advantage, Demaryius from goal line to goal line.

He also has 98 catches and 1,194 yards more than Dez.

Yes, Bryant, who at 6-foot-5 is 2 inches taller than Thomas, was a post-up, high-point, touchdown-catching machine, especially in the three-year period from 2012-14, when he scored 41 times.

And there’s no question Bryant received gobs more publicity than the reserved Thomas.

But Bryant’s career has pretty much overlapped with two quality quarterbacks in Tony Romo and Dak Prescott. Thomas had a terrific four-year run with Peyton Manning but that period was sandwiched by Tim Tebow and Kyle Orton on one side and Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch on the other.

Brandon Marshall was a big reason why the Broncos took Thomas, and not Bryant, with the No. 22 selection in the first round of the 2010 draft.

“Didn’t expect to go there at all,” Thomas said in an interview for the book, The 50 Greatest Players in Denver Broncos History. “Everything was all Dez.’’

But McDaniels clashed with Marshall, the Broncos’ 100-catch receiver, the previous year, and he wanted the coachable Thomas instead of Bryant, who was considered the better receiver but a huge character concern. Bryant went No. 24 to the Dallas Cowboys, and indeed, he often clashed with his coaches and teammates early in his career.

Thomas had a foot injury entering the draft and didn’t have much of a rookie season. He started to break out with Tebow – who was the No. 25 overall pick, one after Bryant, in the 2010 draft -- midway through his second season of 2011.

From there, Thomas and Bryant were in the conversation for NFL’s top receiver for a few years although both had their production slip in the past three years.

But while Bryant’s three-year decline was precipitous following his own foot injury – an average of 50 catches for 678 yards and 6 touchdowns – Thomas’ has still been efficient with an average of 93 catches, 1,112 yards and 5 touchdowns.

Thomas has five Pro Bowl selections to three for Bryant.

Ultimately, the two were separated when Elway exercised Thomas’ $4 million option bonus in March – effectively assuring he will also receive an $8.5 million salary in his ninth season in Denver – and the Cowboys decided to let go of Bryant.

Given the Cowboys waited a month after the start of free agency to release their star receiver, Bryant supporters might say the only difference between Demaryius and Dez is Elway did right by Thomas and Bryant was wronged by Jones.

But the numbers other than 88 say the Broncos did right by taking Demaryius instead of Dez.

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