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Mailbag: First-Time Pro Bowlers? Rookie Starters?


Who do you think has the best chance to become a first-time Pro Bowler in 2022? Four players were first-time Pro Bowlers last year: Micah Parsons, Trevon Diggs, CeeDee Lamb and Bryan Anger. — MIKE S / DALLAS, TX

Rob: I thought Jayron Kearse should have been selected last year. He was the leading tackler on the league's most improved defense, incredibly versatile, never came off the field. Maybe with another similar season, more people will take notice. On offense, Dalton Schultz has a legitimate chance to be the first Cowboys tight end with a 1,000-yard season since Jason Witten in 2012. That would certainly put him in the Pro Bowl conversation.

Nick: I've been saying this for a while and at some point it's going to stick – but there can't be many better special teams players in the NFC than C.J. Goodwin. He's the only player in franchise history to lead the team in special teams tackles three years in a row. Goodwin is a huge difference-maker on special teams and at some point, he'll get that recognition. If that answer isn't satisfying enough, then give me Tony Pollard, who could probably make it on special teams as well.

Kyle: One name that should continuously be in this conversation is Jayron Kearse. If he were to string together another season in 2022 like he had last year, he should be in the running (and with the notority) to be a Pro Bowl player. It would be tough for me to say anyone else could make that list right now. Maybe a shocker like Tyler Smith, Sam Williams, or Jabril Cox, players with their professional output unknown, could make their way into consideration

Can Tyler Smith, Sam Williams, Jalen Tolbert and John Ridgeway all crack the starting lineup this coming season? I think back to the 49ers with Ronnie Lott and company had four rookies and they went to the Super Bowl. — STEPHEN GRAYSON / GREENVILLE, MS

Rob: Right now I'll predict that Smith and Tolbert are Week 1 starters: Smith at left guard and Tolbert in one of the top three receiver spots. Williams should get snaps right away in the defensive line rotation. I anticipate Neville Gallimore, Carlos Watkins and Osa Odighizuwa getting most of the defensive tackle snaps, with Ridgeway battling for a spot in the rotation.

Nick: If that happens, are we sure it's a good thing? If those rookies are that good right now and can beat out the veterans ahead of them, then yes, it's a great thing? But in my time here, when a lot of rookies play, it usually means the team isn't very good. That being said, I've got Tyler Smith starting at some place on the line. I can see Williams getting a healthy rotation in the nickel defense and Jaylen Tolbert will probably be used a lot in packages, too. Ridgeway and Ferguson will probably be rotational players as well. So to me, I've got just one rookie starting on offense. And I'd be fine with that.

Kyle: It would be a lot to ask for four rookies to make their way into the starting lineup, but not impossible. Smith and Tolbert will almost certainly see starts because of the nature of their position and the need for them to contribute. Williams and Ridgeway is where things could get interesting. Williams as a second-round pick could play his way into a starting role opposite of DeMarcus Lawrence. But asking that much from any rookie edge rusher is unlikely. Same could be said for Ridgeway. Who, despite some fan excitement, remains lower on the depth chart in an extremely crowded defensive tackle room. He's not the only young talent who will fight for playing time, so it'll take some unbelievable production or injuries in front of him to get in the starting lineup.

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