Pro Football Focus gets a lot of publicity from their player grading system, but let’s see what they think about the Dallas Cowboys this season.
In case you’re unfamiliar, PFF is a sports analytics company that performs in-depth research on NFL players. PFF is best known for it’s player grades, which are calculated by a PFF analyst who watches every snap a player takes in each game.
The analyst then grades the player’s performance based on what they did each play. PFF prides itself on not showing bias towards higher level players. They also factor in small details that can’t be seen in the box score.
For example, if a QB throws a perfect pass but the WR drops it, that goes down as an incompletion for the QB. With PFF, the QB would receive a positive grade on the play and the WR’s would be negative.
So let’s take a look at some of PFF’s Cowboys player grades:
Tony Pollard: 90.2
Cowboys fans love Pollard, but not as much as PFF. The only RB with a better player grade is Josh Jacobs (92.7). The former Memphis Tiger is Dallas’ highest graded offensive player.
In Pollard’s first three seasons, he was most known for his pass catching abilities. But his game has been well-rounded this year. Pollard has a career-high 719 rushing yards with three games left to play.
Pollard’s run grade is 90.1, and his receiving grade is 73.3.
Micah Parsons: 91.3
Parsons grades as the second-best edge defender in football, and the top player in Dallas. The only ED ahead of Micah is Myles Garrett (93).
At the start of the season, it looked like Parsons could have a shot at breaking the single-season sack record. Through the Cowboys first seven games, Parsons had eight sacks.
But he’s slowed down a bit in the second half of the year. In the last seven games, Parsons has five sacks. Of course, 13 sacks in a season is nothing to scoff at, and Micah needs just one more QB take down to beat his total as a rookie.
Part of what makes Parsons so unique is his speed, and ability to play multiple positions. At 6’3, 245-pounds, Micah is strong enough to beat an offensive tackle, but still small enough to stick with a RB or TE in pass coverage.
Zack Martin: 72
Martin’s grade jumps out because he’s been one of the best interior offensive linemen in football since he was drafted in 2014. Giving Martin a 72 feels low. If it stands for the remainder of the season, it’ll be the lowest grade of Martin’s career.
Admittedly, it’s hard to really tell how good of a season a guard is having without knowing their assignments on a given play. Unlike the skill positions, there aren’t many stats tracked for offensive linemen.
Former Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions G T.J. Lang once bashed PFF, saying there’s no way an accurate grade can be given to the offensive line.
Regardless, the most impressive skill Martin has is the ability to stay healthy. The 32-year-old has plenty of NFL mileage, but has yet to miss a game this season.