The Dallas Cowboys snagged the best defensive player in the 2021 NFL Draft when they selected Micah Parsons with the 12th overall pick. All he's done since then is make the organization look like geniuses with his stellar ability to rush the quarterback, something he didn't do a lot of at Penn State.
After another dominant third campaign, Parsons is now in rarefied air when it comes to rushing the passer. With his sack on Sunday versus the Washington Commanders, which gave him 40.5 for his career so far, Parsons became just the fifth player in NFL history to record 40 sacks in his first three seasons as he joined Hall of Famers Reggie White (52) and Derrick Thomas (43.5), as well as Aldon Smith (42) and Dwight Freeney (40).
.@MicahhParsons11 recorded his 14th sack of the season, a career-best.— Dallas Cowboys Public Relations (@DallasCowboysPR) January 7, 2024
Parsons is the fifth NFL player since 1982 with at least 40.0 career sacks in his first three NFL seasons, joining Reggie White (52.0), Derrick Thomas (43.5), Aldon Smith (42.0) and Dwight Freeney (40.0).
Parsons has seen his sack totals increase each year he's been a pro from 13 as a rookie to 13.5 last season, and now a new career-high of 14 in 2023. If almost every pass-rush snap that Parsons had this year didn't resemble a mugging in a dark alley (he didn't draw a holding call in the final 46 quarters), who knows how many sacks he would have recorded.
What on earth does Micah Parsons have to do to draw a holding call?? pic.twitter.com/qhTqeWAbhZ— Marc Istook (@MarcIstook) January 7, 2024
However, Parsons did finish the season with the most pressures in the league and the second-best pass-rush win rate despite being double teamed more than any other player.
The thing that makes what Parsons does so impressive is that he doesn't exclusively play on the edge. He can line up inside and rush through the A and B gaps, or play on the second level as a linebacker. He's the ultimate chess piece for defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. This skill set is what has had people drawing comparisons between Parsons and Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor, arguably the best defender in NFL history.
Parsons garnered his third consecutive Pro Bowl nod this season and will certainly be named an All-Pro for a third time. However, he's looking to accomplish much more once the postseason kicks off this weekend for the Cowboys when they host the Green Bay Packers.
“Regular season is cute, and people are like, ‘Oh you know he played great for a while.’ But this is legacy,” Parsons said to reporters on Sunday. “There’s a term, ‘Be phenomenal or be forgotten. The way Jimmy (Johnson) and Mike (Irvin), the way people show them love, and Charles (Haley), I think that’s for me, CeeDee, Dak all want to be on that legacy and earn our way into that Cowboys hall of fame.”
All Parsons has to do is keep the trajectory of his career going the way it is and that will happen, and hopefully, he'll help the Cowboys bring home a few Lombardi trophies along the way.