Last year, it was clear that the Dallas Cowboys had clear candidates for some of the major NFL awards. Micah Parsons was considered by many the best defensive prospect of the NFL Draft and Dak Prescott had a clear storyline to walk away with the Comeback Player of the Year.

While Parsons was able to make a resounding statement by winning the Defensive Rookie of the Year unanimously, Prescott fell short to Joe Burrow as the Comeback Player.

As we head into the 2022 season, the Cowboys have no such thing as a clear-cut candidate for any award.

As the quarterback of America’s Team, Prescott will come up as an MVP candidate every year, but he’s not among the top candidates right now.

Parsons received five votes for Defensive Player of the Year last season and could be in the discussion again but a big question is how many snaps he will get as a pass rusher to catch up in total sacks to some of the other stars in the league. That essentially cost him the award last season versus TJ Watt.

However, it’s the Cowboys’ third-round pick who could emerge as a surprise legit candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Dallas Cowboys
May 14, 2022; Frisco, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Jalen Tolbert (18) goes through drills during practice at the Ford Center at the Star Training Facility in Frisco, Texas. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Why Cowboys WR Jalen Tolbert could win OROY

Recent research by betting website Action Network found that players who win this award share the three common characteristics listed below:

  1. Position: Quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers.
  2. Stats
  3. Playing time: Will the rookie get enough playing time early in the season?

Action Network looked into the favorites for the award and determined which rookies checked these three critical boxes. Turns out that Jalen Tolbert, listed at +1600, does. Despite being tied as the 13th favorite for the award, Tolbert is pointed out by these betting experts as a favorite.

In the article, Steve Petrella writes:

“Cowboys WR Jalen Tolbert (+1600) and Commanders WR Jahan Dotson (+1800) check most of the same boxes as the favorites. They both have a chance to slot in as WR2s on teams with offenses that will be decent (Washington) or great (Dallas).”

Tolbert is a longshot, mostly because plenty of first and second-round wide receivers dominate the odds right now. Out of the top 10 favorites for OROY this season, seven are wide receivers.

But players like Drake London (Falcons) and Treylon Burks (Titans) didn’t fall in ideal offenses. Also, Petrella adds they might be negatively affected by having similar profiles:

“It’s hard to separate them right now, and it just comes down to personal preference or if you can pick off a rogue price.”

On the other hand, Tolbert will be in the mix to be a Week 1 starter as the Cowboys await Michael Gallup’s return from injury. He’s got a clear path toward playing time, particularly in the slot.

Throughout his career, Dak Prescott has been able to elevate wide receivers that line up inside and that could be the case with Tolbert in Dallas.

Last but not least, it helps that quarterbacks might be a non-factor for this award in 2022. Most of them are unlikely to start more than 10 games as only Kenny Pickett (Steelers) seems to have a viable path toward early playing time.

For more on this topic, check out Sunday’s A to Z Sports Dallas Primetime! 

Featured image via Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports