After having zero Pro Bowl selections in 2020, the Dallas Cowboys made a huge turnaround with five players in all three phases getting nominations in 2021. While the Pro Bowl isn’t necessarily the game that Cowboys Nation wants to see their players participating in February, it is still a clear honor to be named to the roster.
This year, second-year cornerback Trevon Diggs and rookie linebacker Micah Parsons represented the defense on the initial roster. Cowboys guard Zack Martin and offensive tackle Tyron Smith represented the offense, and punter Bryan Anger was a special teams selection. Unfortunately, Martin and Smith backed out of the Pro Bowl in order to rest some injuries. Additionally, quarterback Dak Prescott and WR CeeDee Lamb also received late invites. Lamb attended, but Prescott decided to continue to rest after a rough offseason of rehabbing in the prior year.
Parsons and Diggs played big roles in the weekend, both winning competitions at the Pro Bowl Skills Competition. Diggs also finally got to face off against his brother, Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs.
The hope is that Dallas can send even more players next year. But who will they be? We wanted to do an early preview of some Cowboys who may be able to get their first Pro Bowl nominations if all goes well in 2022. Let us know if you agree!
Three Cowboys players who could get their first Pro Bowl selection after the 2022 season
3. Tony Pollard, RB
There are many people who argued that Tony Pollard was the better running back on the Cowboys roster this season. Many felt Kellen Moore and the Cowboys misused his talent. Pollard was a fourth-round pick out of Memphis in the 2019 NFL Draft, but he didn’t play like it. Even though Ezekiel Elliott was struggling with an injury, the RB1 never seemed to hit his stride this season. Yet, for whatever reason, Elliott got more snaps.
In 2021, Pollard had a career-best 719 yards on 130 carries. The impressive part is he did that without a lot of playing time. He ranked 41st in rushing attempts, 41st in offensive snaps, and had 19 fewer targets than Elliott. Even though Pollard showed flashes of brilliance, the game plan refused to use his skills when the game was on the line. A chart tweeted out by Blogging the Boys shows exactly that.
Consider this breakdown. When the Cowboys have the lead, Pollard received 38% of rushing attempts. That number went up to 55.6% when Dallas was winning by two or more touchdowns. Conversely, when Dallas is tied or losing, his attempts drop to 23.5%. Why was a guy who proved himself to be a skilled running back on the sideline in pivotal points in the season?! Especially if your starting RB was hurt.
Elliott had more rushing attempts in his first eight games than Pollard had in his entire career when the Cowboys are trailing or tied. These stats are baffling. If Dallas actually gives Pollard the chance to shine, he will likely improve upon his best career season, and maybe even earn himself a Pro Bowl selection.
Yes. Elliott is a great running back. But the reality is, he wasn’t in 2021. The Cowboys have to stop putting players on the field who aren’t getting it done. Here’s some proof if you don’t think Pollard was the better rusher. Pollard consistently ranked in the top 10 for PFF’s elusiveness rating. This stat combines missed tackles forced, receptions, yards after contact, and rushing attempts. Nick Chubb was the only other running back to rank in the top 10 of this metric in the last three seasons. Why isn’t this man getting more carries?
Oh, one more thing. Pollard is set to be a free agent in 2023. He’s going to be looking to do exactly what Dalton Schultz and Cedrick Wilson (names we would’ve liked to put on this list but avoided because of free agency) did last year: earn their paycheck. Wilson and Schultz’s price tags improved immensely after this year. So much so that the Cowboys likely can’t afford Schultz anymore. Pollard will be hoping to do the exact same thing. If the Cowboys let him do his job, the offense will benefit and he may get a Pro Bowl nomination.