For the link submission created from the view option, the image must be accepted first
This part isn't true. I've frequently had version links approved long before the image itself was approved.
Thanks for the correction.
As for your suggestion itself, I'd definitely be in favour, though the user interface would still need to provide a bit of a hurdle, or it'd run the risk of endless unwanted representative image proposals from new submitters. And so in the end it probably wouldn't make much of a positive difference either...
Doubt that many "new" users would know how to do this. Adding the version link to the pending image is one of the
hidden "advanced feeeeatures" at BGG.