The Cowboys are looking for a go-to guy, can Allen Hurns be the one?

We’ve spent a lot of time this offseason discussing the pros and cons of having a “#1 WR” on the roster and whether they are necessary to a winning team. Part of the problem with that whole concept is there that there is no accepted definition of what a #1 WR is, at least one that is universally acknowledged.

Is it just a “you know it when you see it” thing? Is it a guy who forces defenses to change? Is it a guy who ranks in the top of the NFL in certain statistical categories? Different people have different theories.

Pro Football Focus recently posted their training camp preview and one of their big points is the Cowboys need to replace Dez Bryant. They label Allen Hurns as the Cowboys prospective #1 WR, but what they are likely saying is that he could emerge as Dak Prescott’s go-to guy.

REPLACING DEZ

Allen Hurns was signed this offseason and projects to be the Cowboys’ No. 1 receiver. After battling injuries in 2016, Hurns came back in 2017 and had the 23rd highest grade among wideouts. The past two years with the Jaguars, Hurns primarily lined up in the slot, but that’s unlikely in Dallas with Cole Beasley on the roster.

In his breakout 2015 season, Hurns primarily lined up on the outside and was extremely efficient in the process. That year, his passer rating when targeted of 116.2 ranked ninth among the league’s receivers, and was very productive on deep passes finishing in the top 10 in terms of catch rate and yards. Considering he hauled in 10 touchdowns on 99 targets that season, Hurns’ passer rating when targeted is likely unsustainable when he lines up on the outside in Dallas. Regardless, he showed during his Jaguar tenure that he’s capable of a big passing game role.

Hurns can produce on the level of Bryant – if he stays healthy. Not the prime-time Bryant in the glory years of Tony Romo, but the Bryant we’ve seen over the last few years. It’s worth revisiting the comparison over the last three years.

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

There’s another player to watch out for as the Cowboys go-to guy. That player is Cole Beasley. In 2016, Beasley led the team in targets (98), catches (75) and yards (833). He was also second on the team with five touchdowns. In 2017, defenses got wise. They put bracket coverage on Beasley underneath and dared the rest of the Cowboys passing game to beat them. It worked for opposing defenses as Beasley’s numbers plummeted and the Cowboys were less effective. The Cowboys offense never expanded Beasley’s route tree or moved him around enough to get him him open consistently. As noted by our own DannyPhantom, the Cowboys already seem committed to correcting those issues in training camp.

So who do you think emerges as the go-to guy for Dak Prescott in 2018?

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