Bryant comes with a caveat emptor tag

Jason Cole

INDIANAPOLIS – Former Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant is emerging as the favorite for the most dubious title in the NFL draft.

Biggest risk.

Three sources with direct knowledge of Bryant from his days in college, where he missed the final 10 games last season because of lying to NCAA investigators, said Bryant’s antics were “consistently irresponsible.”

Bryant is expected to be a first-round pick in April. Some draftniks have predicted that he will go in the top 10, although the consensus appears to be the top 15. Whoever takes him does so at their own peril.

“I wouldn’t draft that kid unless I had someone to wake him up in the morning to get to meetings, someone to wake him up for practice and someone to wake him up for games,” one source said.

A second source said Bryant's reputation was earned because he was consistently late to team activities. That included showing up late for games.

“We’re not just talking about being a little late for warmups, but like being late for the actual game,” a source said with a chuckle. “When you start to hear some of the stories of there, you go, ‘He did what?’ ”

Bryant recently defended himself against questions about his past by claiming he is a “great person” in an interview with NFL Network. While that may be a stretch, his episodes of irresponsible behavior aren’t considered malicious.

“Dez isn’t evil, he’s not trying to hurt anybody. He’s just goofy,” another source said. “But it does make you think, ‘If he’s like this in college, what’s it going to be like when he gets paid?’ ”

The NCAA investigation of Bryant initially revolved around illicit benefits Bryant received while in college. Among the items the NCAA examined were cell phones Bryant had for himself and his girlfriend that were being paid for by another party, although Bryant claimed he paid cash to the other person.

The investigation eventually led to a 10-game ban by Oklahoma State when Bryant lied to NCAA investigators about his interactions with former NFL star and current NFL Network analyst Deion Sanders.