The 2022 NFL season is finally around the corner and it’s time to see the top players in the league do what they do best. There have been mixed reviews about the Dallas Cowboys’ offseason has gone and whether or not their 53-man roster will lead them to another NFC East crown or a decent playoff push.
The team did lose some key players, but they also are going into 2022 with some important continuity. Just how good is the 2022 roster? According to the annual NFL Top 100 list voted on by the players, the Cowboys have six people amongst the cream of the crop. CeeDee Lamb, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, Dak Prescott, Trevon Diggs, and Micah Parsons were all there.
It’s certainly nice to get praise from your peers, but what do NFL analysts and experts think? Pro Football Focus recently released a list of the 50 best players in the league. PFF grades players on far more than just regular stats. They accumulate data points to give players overall grades.
In their PFF50 list, the players were not simply ranked by PFF grade, though. A combination of stats, data, and the PFF wins above replacement metric were used to see who would be the most valuable this season.
The San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers both had five players on the list. The Cowboys tied top teams like the Los Angeles Rams with three players. In other good news, the Eagles were the only other NFC East team to have someone make the PFF50, and that was their new WR A.J. Brown. No Commanders or Giants made the list.
Cowboys LB Micah Parsons, G Zack Martin, and LT Tyron Smith make Pro Football Focus’s top 50 players
This list was made just before LT Tyron Smith sadly went down with an avulsion fracture in his knee ahead of the last preseason game. Obviously, he won’t see the field until at least December, but he was still considered the No. 41 player on the list. PFF lauded his 91.4 overall grade in 2021, his highest since 2015. Plus, the only other tackles to make the list were Trent Williams (No. 2) and David Bakhtiari (No. 23).
Something that Zack Martin has that Smith hasn’t offered the Cowboys in several years is durability. The two offensive linemen are both 31 years old, but Smith only has 22 more games played than Martin despite Smith’s four extra seasons. Martin is preparing to be the main veteran presence for the Cowboys in 2022 on his way to earning himself a future Hall of Fame bid.
Quenton Nelson and Joel Bitonio were the only other guards to make the list, but Martin was above both of them at No. 9. For a 31-year-old guard to make the top 10 in a highly-talented league is very impressive.
"Martin may be the most underrated player in the NFL. He accrued a career-best 93.9 PFF grade last season, posting six separate PFF game grades above 90.0 during the season. He allowed 19 pressures on 688 pass-blocking snaps and has seen his performance improve in each of the past three years."
After just one year in the NFL, Swiss-Army knife Micah Parsons also made the PFF50 at No. 29. In most cases, it makes sense to worry that some rookies may just have one great season and decline from there. With Parsons, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who legitimately thinks the Cowboys linebacker will decline in Year 2.
"Parsons drew comparisons to Lawrence Taylor during his rookie season, and they weren’t crazy — that’s how much of an impact he made during a season in which he was a real Defensive Player of the Year candidate. Parsons ended the year with the best pass-rush win rate (25.3%) among pass rushers and was only doing that to fill in when injuries hit Dallas’ defensive line. Parsons has special ability, and if he can develop his play off the ball a little further, he will be one of the NFL’s best players."
We’re sad that Smith will be on the sideline, but excited to see Martin and Parsons continue to dominate in 2022.