With training camp less than two months away, the start of the 2022 season is getting closer. The Cowboys will once again have one of the more talented rosters in the NFL, but who are the best players on their team? Today we take on that task and rank the top 10 players on Dallas’ roster entering the 2022 season.
10) WR - Michael Gallup
It’s hard to know what the Cowboys will get from Michael Gallup this season coming off a torn ACL, but if he can come back healthy he is one of the better WR2s in football. Injuries limited Gallup to appearing in just nine games last season where he caught 35 passes for 445 yards and scored two touchdowns.
With Amari Cooper out the door, Gallup will need to set up big in 2022 and produce the way he did in 2019 if the Cowboys don’t want to skip a beat on offense.
9) RB - Tony Pollard
When Tony Pollard is on the field good things happen. The third-year running back had the most productive season of his career last year, totaling 1,056 yards from scrimmage, (719 rushing and 337 receiving), and scoring two touchdowns. Pollard averaged an impressive 6.2 Y/Touch showing the ability to make things happen every single time he touched the ball.
While he did produce pretty much every time he was given an opportunity, Pollard still was not given nearly enough chances. The 25-year-old touched the ball 169 times on offense, just 40 more than he did in 2020.
Entering a walk year, it’s up to the Cowboys to get the most out of Tony Pollard. He’s shown he can be extremely productive when given opportunities, Dallas just needs to find creative ways to give him a chance to consistently touch the ball.
8) WR - CeeDee Lamb
While CeeDee Lamb’s 2021 season wasn’t bad by any means, it was a bit underwhelming. Coming out of training camp Lamb seemed to be the guy everyone believed would break out, and many believed he had a chance to become one of the best receivers in football.
Lamb did surpass his rookie year numbers, catching 79 passes for 1,102 yards and scoring six touchdowns, but he never really took that leap that he seemed so ready to take. Drops were still an issue for the second-year wideout, as he recorded eight on the season, and far too many times, he disappeared in big games.
It’s fair to question if this is more on Lamb or Dallas’ offensive gameplan, but there’s no question the wideout needs to be more consistent this upcoming season. Entering the year as the Cowboys’ new WR1, 2022 is a huge year for Lamb to prove he’s capable of being a top wideout in this league.
7) RB - Ezekiel Elliott
This may be the most controversial ranking out of the entire list, but when healthy, Ezekiel Elliott is still an impactful player in this league. Prior to his injury in Week 6 against New England, Elliott was looking like his old self. The running back totaled 452 rushing yards during the first five games of the season, averaging 5.32 Y/A and scoring six touchdowns.
There’s no denying things got ugly after his injury, but you can’t really blame Elliott for that. Dallas should have shut him down after he got hurt in October and rested him up for the final month or so of the regular season. Instead, the Cowboys continued to give him the ball 20 or more times and game and ran him into the ground.
With the toll of over 1,600 carries wearing on his body, it’s fair to question if Elliott will ever be able to stay healthy again throughout an entire season. But, if he is and he’s able to play as he did for the first five games of the 2021 season, he’s still one of the better backs in football and can help Dallas’ offense in a big way.
6) DE - DeMarcus Lawrence
DeMarcus Lawrence’s situation in 2021 was limited to playing in just 7 games during the regular season because of injury, but the former Pro Bowler was very impactful during his short time on the field.
Lawrence’s PFF defensive grade of 90.9 on the season was the second-best of his career, coming in just one point behind his 2017 season when he was named second-team All-Pro.
Because of his lower sack totals, Lawrence is not thought of as an elite defensive player by some. His big-money deal draws criticism because of those depressed sack numbers, but every time he is on the field he makes a positive impact on the game.
5) OT - Tyron Smith
When Tyron Smith is on the field, he’s without a doubt one of the best offensive tackles in football. Unfortunately for both Smith and the Cowboys, staying healthy has been a big problem for the eight-time Pro Bowler over the course of the past four or five seasons.
Injuries once again hindered Smith’s 2021 campaign, as he was limited to playing in just 11 games. However, when Smith was on the field, he was dominant. The 31-year-old finished the season with a 90.2 offensive grade via PFF, (87.0 pass-block and 90.0 run-block), the second-best grade of his career.
Smith’s Pass Block Efficiency grade of 97.9 was also the second-best of his career, and the former first-round pick allowed three or fewer sacks for the sixth-straight season.
It’s certainly fair to question Smith’s ability to stay on the field, but there’s no question about if he can still play at a high level when healthy.
4) CB - Trevon Diggs
This is where things get a little tricky, but after what Trevon Diggs did last season it’s hard not to put him at this spot. Diggs became the first player in football to record 11 interceptions in a season since another Cowboy, Everson Walls, did it all the way back in 1981.
Diggs made as big a jump in his second year in the league as any player in Cowboys history. The 23-year-old was one of the best cornerbacks in the league and made 15 or so game-changing plays during the course of the season.
Without Diggs, Dallas’ secondary would be a big problem. While he likely won’t be able to replicate his interception total from last season, Diggs has shown what he is capable of and is in for another big year in 2022.
3) LB - Micah Parsons
It may seem a little crazy to put Micah Parsons this high after just one season, but he truly is just that good. The former first-round pick was dominant during his rookie year, recording a team-high 14.0 sacks and 42 pressures. Parsons was so good PFF had him tied with future Hall-of-Famer Aaron Donald as the best pass-rusher in football with a 93.0 pass-rush grade on the season.
There isn’t much more to say about Parsons outside of the fact that in his rookie year you could make a pretty good argument he was one of the three best defenders in all of football. There aren’t many players in the history of the league who can make that claim in their first year in the league.
Parsons is Dallas’ best defensive player by a mile and is the engine that makes the Cowboys’ defense go.
2) QB - Dak Prescott
It’s crazy that some people believe Dak Prescott had a down year last season. When you look at the numbers, it’s simply not true. Prescott reached a career high with 37 touchdown passes, the sixth most in football, and his Quarterback Rating of 104.2 was far and away his best since 2016.
In what some considered to be a ‘slump’ after his injury in the New England game, Prescott still was outstanding. In the final 10 games of the regular season, he tossed 21 touchdown passes to just six interceptions and had a Quarterback Rating of 98.1.
Prescott enters the 2022 season as a clear top-ten quarterback in football and is climbing closer to being the third or fourth-best signal-caller in the league. Outside of Zack Martin, Prescott is clearly Dallas’ second-best offensive player.
1) OG - Zack Martin
Last season, Zack Martin once again proved why he is the best guard in football. The 31-year-old was named an All-Pro for the fifth time in his career and was selected to his seventh Pro Bowl.
Martin was the third-highest graded offensive lineman in football via Pro Football Focus last season, finishing the year with a 93.4 offensive grade. He also ranked in the top four in run (92.5) and pass block grades (87.6), and finished the season allowing just two sacks and recording a Pass Blocking Efficiency grade of 98.2.
PFF has Martin ranked as their best guard in football entering the 2022 season, and for good reason. He’s as good at his position as almost any player in football, so he’s clearly Dallas’ top player on their roster entering the 2022 season.