OXNARD, Calif. — The list is too long for even the Internet to hold so let’s just begin with saying Jerry Jones has had his share of draft day whiffs.On the rare occasion Jerry goes all Vegas on the draft and takes the type of risks most people run from and it actually hits, he deserves the credit. Drafting Dez Bryant was sports genius.Remember, Dez was in the same draft class as Aaron Hernandez; coming out Bryant was considered the giant gamble.“He was no greater risk than anybody else,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Tuesday.What a steaming, giant load. Other than the recently incarcerated Hernandez, Dez was the biggest risk of the 2010 NFL Draft based on fears of immaturity.Today, put him in the same discussion with Larry Fitzgerald, Brandon Marshall, Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones, Roddy White and A.J. Green as the top wide receivers in the league.This is why Jerry rolled the dice; the ability was always there. It simply was a matter of Dez’s ability to harness himself.Jerry, Dez and the coaching staff deserve the credit of seeing this thing through.“It means a lot; they stuck their neck out for me and they helped me understand,” Bryant said after Tuesday’s practice.His was a damaged stock that a lot of people at Valley Ranch wanted no part of; Jerry did. Even St. Deion Sanders had given up on Dez.Revisit the 2010 NFL Draft and Dez is a top-five player out of that class. He is an 88 worthy of that honor.Look at the hell Jerry went through to find this new Playmaker:• Passing on Randy Moss because of character concerns.• Trading two No. 1 picks to acquire Joey Galloway.• Minding Antonio Bryant’s stupid self.• Signing an aging Terrell Owens, and tolerating his bratty shtick.• Giving up a first-, third- and fifth-round pick to acquire Roy Williams.The Cowboys traded up three spots in 2010 from the 27th slot with the Patriots to select Bryant. (BTW — New England selected safety Devin McCourty, a good player).When the Cowboys selected Dez they were convinced they had the support system in place to mentor, handle and monitor a player who had a background that this summer ex-Cowboys scout Bryan Broaddus called “the worst he had ever seen.”“I didn’t need an encouragement of revisiting the Randy Moss situation,” Jerry said the day they picked Dez on April 22, 2010. “He is a better player than [where he was drafted]. The issues we want to address and should address are not the kind of issues that cause me to jump back. He is a good person.”The Cowboys said the same thing about Pacman Jones, which was a fiasco. The Cowboys always think they have the “support system” in place.The only way a support system works was if Dez wanted it to, and clearly he does.From the production Dez posted in the second half of last season to his greatly appreciated boring off-season where he made not a single headline for the wrong reasons, all signs are that this guy gets it. He’s been worth the risk.“I killed that this off-season,” he said. “There is no backwards for me. I’m doing everything that I’m supposed to. I’m not a bad guy.”The man who is preparing for his fourth NFL season is not the same guy when he arrived in 2010. That guy was a punk who relied on a rough upbringing as a crutch, which his older teammates did not appreciate.Despite physical warnings from his teammates, such as guard Leonard Davis, to do the things that rookies are expected to do, Dez simply refused to give in to anybody. That Dez played by his own rules.This Dez plays by the rules, and both he and the Cowboys are enjoying the benefits.This career should be far from over, and considering what he has gone through to reach this point, you figure he has to be enjoying this. At least you hope he is.You can’t say this guy doesn’t care, or hasn’t tried. It was a matter of maturity, and growing up.He deserves the credit.So does Jerry.
Mac Engel, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @macengelprof