Is Pittsburgh Steelers Brown Better Than Cowboys Bryant?


Dec 9, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) celebrate after catching a pass for a touchdown during the first quarter against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

This may seem like an odd question coming at this time of the NFL calendar year.  But, is the Pittsburgh Steelers star receiver, Antonio Brown, better than the Dallas Cowboys star, Dez Bryant?

This question is being posed because of two fold: 1) AB was recently ranked higher than Bryant in the NFL’s Top 100 list of 2014, and 2) A Cowboys fan site posed the same question on Monday morning, and the author found in favor of Bryant (shocker).

Upon a statistical analysis of the two authored by Derek Sanders, one can see the following:

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Just looking at the stats, Brown takes down Bryant in three of the five categories during the 2013 season.  And while stats are important and the very nature of touchdowns puts points on the scoreboard – this comparative list doesn’t paint the full picture.  Since this doesn’t support the narrative, Sanders then moves into career stats.  Here Bryant takes all five of the same categories, and buttons up the argument that even though Brown may have had a better statistical season, Bryant is the better receiver and more impactful player.

Let’s slam the brakes right there.  To say that Bryant has the better career stats than Brown is technically a correct statement.  But to then insert ‘impactful’ as a descriptor of Bryant’s abilities over Brown’s is a very incorrect assertion based on what’s been said.  I couldn’t help but lay down a comment and point out a few things.

Nov 10, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) returns a punt against Buffalo Bills long snapper Garrison Sanborn (65) during the third quarter at Heinz Field. The Pittsburgh Steelers won 23-10. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Comparing these two is difficult.  Your talking about a first rounder versus a sixth rounder.  By that very nature, the two receivers would have very different roles when entering training camp for the very first time and throughout the first season of their careers.  Even as Brown solidified his spot within the roster after a fairly decent rookie campaign with the ‘Young Money Crew,’ he served several roles on the team – one of which as the return man due to his speed and agility when returning kicks.  Brown also stood in the shadow of a faster and taller Mike Wallace whom the Steelers wanted to utilize as their big play deep threat receiver.  The shorter and more agile Brown was much better suited for mid-yardage plays and getting first downs.  Even after the departure of Wallace, Brown, as the #1 receiver, ran routes that made sense for him.  He was and is a 20 yard line to 20 yard line type of receiver.  The complete opposite is true for Bryant – who is by his very nature of stature is more of a Mike Wallace type receiver… just way better hands.

Because these men served (and in ways still serve) as different types of receivers thus far, it’s difficult to compare apples to apples.  You have to dig a bit deeper.  Bryant has started in more games, by almost 20.  Starting just means you were on the field at the first snap/series.  Brown wasn’t always in the huddle on the first snap in games because since the arrival of Todd Haley, the offense uses jumbo packages that utilizes three tight ends and a fullback with NO receivers on the field.  Even though Bryant ‘started’ in more games, Brown still played 968 snaps compared to Bryant’s 959.

Look it’s just different strokes for different folks.  If we are breaking away from the whole Top 100 and moving to better overall receiver, you just can’t do a straight up and down comparison.  It’s a push.  Bryant is the better Red Zone and TD catching receiver, where Brown is the superior gobble up yards, make guys miss, and move the sticks kind of receiver.  They are both very good in their own ways.  But, it’s a stretch to really try and say one is that much better than the other.