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How the Cowboys lucked into one of the best edge rushers in the game with Micah Parsons

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky that good, so says Dallas.

Dallas Cowboys v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys did it again. They somehow, someway, split the atom by landing one of the most talented players in the NFL draft while other teams just passed him by. Even when coveted players started coming off the board right before their turn to pick, the team didn’t waver. Instead, they just calmly traded back in the draft and still managed to come away with none other than planet-player phenom, Micah Parsons.

It doesn’t really matter what we all thought at the time he was drafted. Whether we loved it or hated it, we should all love it now. Parsons is spectacular. From his excitement of being drafted by the Cowboys to his hunger of just wanting to be on the football field for every play, this rookie has been special from the get-go. How lucky are the Cowboys to have selected him with their first-round pick?

Okay, so that wasn’t luck per se. Will McClay and his scouting department might’ve had a hand in sniffing this one out. The front office clearly had no apprehensions about “settling” for a player like Parsons should one of those top corners not be available. And as “luck” would have it, those corners were gone, and the Cowboys had to resort to their contingency plan. So, call it luck, call it patience, call it brilliant scouting, but however you slice it, the Cowboys were extremely fortunate to come out of the draft with a talent like Parsons.

From the onset, Parsons has been a guy who many believed would take down the Defensive Rookie of the Year award. The upside is certainly there, and every week he does more and more to validate those predictions. Now, he’s essentially a lock for that honor and has moved into the conversation as a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year. And that’s not just excitement homerism talking. Parsons has the numbers to back it up. Check out how he compares to a couple of the elite edge rushers in the game (stats provided courtesy of David Helman)

I added each player’s average salary just to make an already pleasing sight even more pleasing. Getting a star player is fantastic. Getting him on the first year of a five-year rookie deal is a rare discovery.

What is astonishing with Parsons is that as talented as people believed him to be, nobody saw it coming where he’s playing as one of the best pass rushers in the game. He already has 10 sacks on the season so far and is just five sacks away from breaking the all-time rookie sack record by Javon Kearse of 14.5 sacks in 1999. Considering he’s had 7.5 sacks over his last five games, breaking the record is a realistic possibility.

The Cowboys didn’t draft Parsons to play defensive end, but because of missed games from both DeMarcus Lawrence (10 games) and Randy Gregory (four games), the team has needed his services on the edge.

On Sunday against Washington, the Cowboys will have the luxury of playing all three of their pass-rushing stars together for the first time since Week 1. Needless to say, Parsons is miles better now than he was in his debut as his understanding of the game has improved immensely. We’re not sure what things will look like exactly, but we are sure that this grouping will be a delight to watch.

These next five weeks could tell us a lot as far as what the future looks like for this team. Gregory is a free agent this upcoming offseason. Will the Cowboys, who are pressed for cap space, be able to afford to re-sign him? Some believe Gregory will just agreeably sign a team-friendly deal because of the team’s overwhelming commitment to him over the years, but a more realistic outcome is Gregory gets a fat paycheck. He’s a talented edge rusher and players like that are in high demand.

And while Lawrence’s contract is often scrutinized, the commitment the organization has in Tank is pretty heavy. The Cowboys would have to eat $19 million in dead money to get out of his deal next offseason, so don’t expect the team to move away from him.

It’s not inconceivable to think Parsons could be the next big thing on the edge for Dallas, and maybe even the entire NFL. He’s only scratched the surface. And while the team also has plenty of questions at the linebacker position going forward, off-ball linebackers are a lot easier to find than elite edge rushers. Plus, Parsons’ dynamic ability allows him to be used in an assortment of ways, so the team can always adjust on the fly just like they are doing this season.

Eight months ago, people scoffed (raises hand) at using such a high draft resource on a linebacker, but here we are now where the team may have landed one of the best young edge rushers in the game. It’s early still, but early indications are the Cowboys have themselves a superstar in Micah Parsons who plays one of the most important positions in the game at a high level. Hmm...where have I seen that before?