A couple of days ago, we looked again at the pick of Micah Parsons now that we are a couple of weeks away from the selection. Emotions can run pretty hot in the moment so it was a chance to look back with a little more detachment and try to objectively look at the selection. Given the state of the Dallas defense coming off the 2020 season, someone of Parsons’ ability should absolutely help. We’ve also learned that he will start off at the MIKE position, but there’s a level of flexibility to his game where he could be used in different spots.
While the Cowboys fanbase and media have been debating the merits of taking Parsons, there is another discussion happening with national media and oddsmakers concerning the Cowboys first-round pick. That involves predicting who will win the Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 2021. The lead dog in that race is none other than Micah Parsons.
Here’s what a few members of a roundtable of NFL analysts had to say when asked who would be Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2021.
Clay: Micah Parsons, LB, Cowboys. Parsons is expected to immediately step into an every-down role in a Dallas defense badly in need of playmakers. In addition to racking up tackles as an off-ball linebacker, he’s likely to generate sacks while being utilized as an occasional pass-rusher (granted he was in his second year, but Devin White racked up 178 tackles and 9.0 sacks in a similar role last season). Parsons’ skill set, role and path to snaps sets him up as the favorite for DROY honors.
Seifert: Micah Parsons, LB, Cowboys. In some years, there is a difference between being the best rookie defensive player in the league and winning the Defensive Rookie of the Year award. The latter usually requires some level of notable objective statistics, such as sacks or interceptions, and sometimes those numbers are a matter of scheme rather than ability. But Parsons can cover so much ground that there’s every reason to think he’ll be around the ball and making plays all season.
Yates: Micah Parsons, LB, Cowboys. Not only did Parsons have a case as the best defensive prospect in this year’s class, he aligns at a position where eye-popping stats can be achieved. He’s incredibly versatile and athletic, checking all the boxes needed to be an immediate starter for a Cowboys team that is desperate for defensive help.
In some ways, the position he plays and his versatility can work in his favor in winning the DROY award. He will be in a position to make tackles and the Cowboys are probably going to send him after the quarterback a good bit, too. As mentioned, that combination of tackles plus sacks/QB pressures are part of what they look for in winning the award. A player needs stats to win and Parsons should certainly get those.
Micah Parsons, LB, Cowboys: The Dallas Cowboys were able to trade back and still land their guy after both top corners came off the board in the top 10. Parsons leads a crop of extremely gifted linebackers who excel in physical freakishness and versatility. Though he sat out 2020, it’s apparent he’s still pro-ready.
Parsons fills a void recently left by the retiring of longtime captain Sean Lee for Dallas and he’s a projected Day-1 starter. With division rivals loading up on “offensive weapons” and versatile athletes like DeVonta Smith (Eagles), Kadarius Toney (Giants), and Curtis Samuel (Washington), Parsons is a perfect counter. He’s an elite pass rusher, as well, which will help bolster is DROY campaign.
There is still some resentment about taking another off-ball linebacker this high. With the Cowboys glaring need at corner, losing out on Patrick Surtain or Jaycee Horn is going to color the view of the Parsons’ pick. Perhaps not taking Rashawn Slater instead rankles some. Parsons was not a popular pick at the time and will have to win over some in the fanbase.
But the Cowboys believe in him. Stephen Jones has already said Parsons was rated higher than Surtain or Horn on their board as a pure football player without need coming into the picture. Will McClay also outlined what he saw in Parsons.
Micah Parsons, Round 1 (No. 12), linebacker: “With him, the No. 1 thing is that it’s a height, weight, speed, athleticism league and he has all those traits. Then there was the opt-out and finding out why he did it. Every instance in this draft was a different set of circumstances for each guy. Love of the game. Once we did our research on his love of the game, why he opted out, then we started to go to the physical ability to play the position. At the end of the day, he can play all three downs, sideline to sideline. He’s impactful with his speed, his physical play inside the box, playing off blocks, exploiting gaps from a pressure standpoint, as well as pressure off the edge. Then there’s the intensity that he plays with. When you’re making an investment in a player ... you want a player who can do multiple things. That provides you with the flexibility in how to use him now and what he grows into in the future.”
So BTB, do you think Parsons will win DROY?