As 2021 draft night was fast approaching most believed a cornerback would be the pick for the Dallas Cowboys, but with Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain II going before the Cowboys time on the clock, it looked as if Dallas’ first-round strategy was squandered and they would have to pivot to a new plan. The Cowboys eventually traded with the Philadelphia Eagles and wound up acquiring an extra third-round pick for sliding back two spots, and when they were back on the clock they once again were facing a decision. The Cowboys had to decide if they would rather take the defensive player rated by most as the best defensive prospect in the draft, Micah Parsons, or should they take the best available offensive linemen in Rashawn Slater. Many across the fan base, and the media pundits around the team, were split on who the pick should be as neither played the position in the secondary many felt the Cowboys needed. Eventually the card was turned in and Parsons would become a Cowboy that night.
From the moment Parsons was drafted he has been a somewhat polarizing figure on this team. Parsons has come off as approachable, funny, and authentic in all of his media availabilities. His matter-of-fact, true-to-self personality has been a breath of fresh air compared to the mundane that can typify interactions with most athletes. He’s also made it a point to connect with his teammates and to be a positive member of the locker room since day one. From his chess rivalry with Amari Cooper, to his playful banter with Ezekiel Elliott, there is no question Parsons has fit right in with his teammates.
However, what is going to set Parsons apart is his work ethic and his skill set. The Cowboys have thrown a bunch at Parsons and by all accounts the young man has not flinched.
Mike McCarthy said he felt rookie LB Micah Parsons did too much in his first training camp practice. “His volume was off the charts.”— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) July 23, 2021
McCarthy was very pleased with what he saw from the first-round pick. “It’ll be exciting to see him in pads.”
His ability to rush off the edge and be used in a wide variety of ways will allow the Cowboys to capitalize on his athletic ability and making him unique from just being an off the ball linebacker.
Cowboys rookie LB Micah Parsons spends most of his time working as off-ball linebacker. But during individual drills today he spent time on pass rush, too. Embracing chances for versatility.— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) July 22, 2021
( : @dallascowboys) pic.twitter.com/mHXdyQ3oos
Dan Quinn has quickly taken an interest in Parsons and has recognized his rare moldable traits. They have spent much of the downtime before and after practices fine tuning his techniques and giving him value coaching that could be used to accelerate his growth and speed up the process of his productivity as he enters year one in the NFL.
The idea that Parsons can be used as a designated pass rusher as well as be an athletic off the ball linebacker is what has changed many of the naysayers minds on the pick. There is questions about the value associated with a 12th overall selection not warranting the use on an off the ball linebacker, but when that player is used in a weapon type role on the defense, that can change. The Cowboys are putting a versatile, and playmaking, athlete on the second level of their defense that can create issues for an opposing offense. That seems to be the plan here for Parsons as they are moving him up and down the first two levels of the defense regularly.
Cowboys rookie Micah Parsons is again oscillating between work at LB and edge rusher. He started period as LB, working in 5-on-4 passing period, and then was summoned 30 yards away to rush against LT Tyron Smith. Then back to 5-on-4.— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) July 24, 2021
Pads don’t come on until Wednesday. pic.twitter.com/BY2dQBeJfg
Since the day Parsons came to Dallas he has been nothing but himself. He has worked hard, been an eager-to-learn rookie, and has embraced the locker room culture. Most importantly he has been unafraid of hard work and a heavy course load. Dan Quinn and the staff will continue to throw the kitchen sink at him, and how he continues to respond and rise to the challenge will be his legacy with this organization going forward.
The team has a star in the making and they are determined to put Parsons in the best position to succeed. It’s likely we will see Parsons all over the field and being used in many different ways.
Whether that be rushing the passer, filling a hole in the run game, or becoming a positive member of the Dallas Cowboys locker room, Micah Parsons isn’t looking to prove anybody wrong, he just wants to prove the Cowboys right.