PFF picks interesting names for top 3 Cowboys heading into 2022

Tyron Smith, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Tyron Smith, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

When you ask most people who their favorite player is on any team, they usually have a quick answer. But putting together a list of the top three players on a team can sometimes be tough. Do you consider age? Pro Bowls? Durability? Personality? Pro Football Focus tried to do it, though. Ben Linsey put together a list of the top three players on each roster heading into the 2022 season, including the Dallas Cowboys.

The most popular players on the Cowboys (at least according to NFL merchandise sales) tend to be Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and CeeDee Lamb. However, none of those names made PFF’s list. Instead, Linsey chose Zack Martin, Micah Parsons, and Tyron Smith for his grouping. Are these three Cowboys some of the best players on the roster? Absolutely.

The curiosity seems to be in the fact that Parsons technically only has one season under his belt – although it’s incredibly fair to expect the linebacker won’t decline much, if at all, in year two. Additionally, Martin and Smith, who are two of the best offensive linemen in the league, are starting to see age play a factor. Both offensive linemen were Pro Bowl nominated last season but chose to sit out the game due to injuries and need for rest.

Smith didn’t even participate in OTAs on Wednesday with the team due to back tightness. We aren’t trying to say that Martin and Smith aren’t incredible players. What we are saying is that their age and durability are starting to become huge factors. In other words, it would almost be a miracle for both of them to remain fully healthy and have as many reps as years past in 2022. Martin is entering his ninth season and Smith is entering his 12th. So are they the top players for 2022? It’s hard to say. When they’re on the field, they’re excellent. But they often aren’t.

PFF selects Zack Martin, Micah Parsons, and Tyron Smith as the top 3 Cowboys players for 2022 despite age and durability

Here’s why Linsey chose these three:

"Martin and Smith — two of the best players at their respective positions — are the constants in a re-shuffling Cowboys offensive line. They rank first and fourth respectively in PFF’s Wins Above Replacement (WAR) metric at their position since Martin entered the league in 2014. Parsons doesn’t have that same extended track record of elite play, but he showed in his rookie season that he’s already one of the most impactful defensive players in the NFL. He was PFF’s highest-graded off-ball linebacker in 2021 while also beating offensive tackles consistently when Dallas asked him to rush off the edge."

Linsey isn’t wrong. Martin and Smith will be key to an otherwise young, penalty-ridden, and inexperienced offensive line in 2022. But, will they be top players for this season over names like Prescott, DeMarcus Lawrence, Tony Pollard, or Michael Gallup? I guess we will have to wait and see.

If the guard and OT can stay healthy, they will absolutely be some of the best players on the field for Dallas. If Parsons can repeat what he did in 2021, he may win Defensive Player of the Year in 2022. But these three selections come with a lot of uncertainty and question marks. Let’s hope they live up to Linsey’s expectations.

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