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Cowboys 2021 rookie report: Micah Parsons vaults himself into the DPOY conversation

The Cowboys certainly found a special one.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Washington Football Team Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Another game in the books where the Dallas defense led them to victory, which means another game in the books where Micah Parsons was proving everyone wrong about whether or not he should have been the Cowboys’ top pick in the draft.

Even the people who liked the decision to take Parsons twelfth overall were wrong, because absolutely nobody expected him to be this dominant this early on, and yet here he is. Parsons’ incredible play has also made it harder to appreciate these other rookies, although they’ve been pretty good too even if they’re not living up to the expectations of the Lion.

Micah Parsons, LB

What else is there to say? Parsons recorded two sacks, two hits on the quarterback, a tackle for loss, and several pressures against the Washington Football Team. He also came close to recording his first career interception twice on the day. Oh, and the Fox broadcast crew compared him to Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor, the only player in NFL history to ever win the Defensive Player of the Year award as a rookie.

It’s a little early to declare Parsons the next L.T., but it is time to discuss Parsons winning the DPOY award this year. His teammate, Trevon Diggs, also has a good argument but Parsons is wrecking offensive game plans multiple times a game every game. Diggs has been phenomenal, but Parsons has been more consistent.

On a league-wide basis, Parsons has some competition. Browns edge rusher Myles Garrett and Cowboys Steelers edge rusher T.J. Watt are considered the leaders right now, but Parsons continues to dominate. Washington’s offensive line had been playing great football coming into this week, too, which should add to the prestige of his performance. And with both the Browns and Steelers sitting on the edge of the playoff bubble right now, perhaps Parsons has an opportunity to really emerge in this race.

Kelvin Joseph, CB

Kelvin Joseph continues to hold a key role on special teams for the Cowboys, and he does that job very well. Dan Quinn mentioned last week that the team has a lot of confidence in the rookie, but Anthony Brown has just been playing too well this year to take him out. Brown should have had two picks against Washington, but it didn’t quite happen. Still, a special teams role is likely Joseph’s ceiling this year barring any injuries.

Osa Odighizuwa, iDL

Osa Odighizuwa had seemingly been hitting a rookie wall for a bit, and Quinn responded by reducing his snap counts in recent games. Of course, Odighizuwa was only supposed to be a situational pass rusher when the Cowboys first drafted him, but injuries to Neville Gallimore and Trysten Hill pushed the rookie into more action.

Both Hill and Gallimore are back now, and Odighizuwa is back to that specialized role. The early result is promising, as the former UCLA Bruin had a productive day against Washington. He only had two tackles, although one was a run stuff that he paired with Gallimore. Odighizuwa also flashed some juice in the pass rush, showing that he may be getting a second wind as the Cowboys try to make a playoff push.

Chauncey Golston, EDGE

Chauncey Golston has filled a vital role as Quinn’s versatile chess piece on this defensive line, as he has the ability to play inside and outside on both run and pass downs. He continued to do exactly what he was asked on Sunday, although his two tackles don’t paint the picture of a difference-maker. It especially pales in comparison to all the other Cowboys defensive linemen who made splash plays, but Golston continues to be a rotational piece in the trenches.

Nahshon Wright, CB

Wright missed another game with COVID and was replaced by safety Darian Thompson.

Jabril Cox, LB

Jabril Cox is on the injured reserve with a torn ACL.

Josh Ball, OT

Josh Ball is on the injured reserve.

Simi Fehoko, WR

After suiting up the last two games with injuries at the wide receiver spot, Simi Fehoko was inactive for this week.

Quinton Bohanna, iDL

It can be hard to really gauge Quinton Bohanna’s effectiveness considering he doesn’t get too many snaps on defense. And when he does, Bohanna’s job is usually to plug the middle of the defensive line on run downs and redirect traffic to others. He was only on the field for seven defensive snaps this week as the Cowboys are now healthy at defensive tackle.

Israel Mukuamu, S

After being active and playing on special teams each of the last two weeks, Israel Mukuamu was back on the inactive list this week, which is more a reflection of this team getting healthy at the top of the depth chart than anything to do with the rookie safety from South Carolina.

Matt Farniok, OG

Matt Farniok was inactive this week, a relative surprise given how often he’s been used on kick attempts this year.

JaQuan Hardy, RB

With Tony Pollard not playing this week after tearing his plantar fascia, Hard Knocks star JaQuan Hardy made his NFL debut after sitting on the practice squad all year. He mostly played on special teams, although Hardy did touch the football twice.

Hardy got a carry, which he took for three yards, and later returned a kickoff 15 yards. It wasn’t anything to write home about, but Hardy showed he can be relied upon when necessary. No word yet on whether he was wearing contacts or glasses.