Few rookies have entered the NFL with the kind of success that Micah Parsons enjoyed in 2021. Already seen as one of the league's top linebackers, Parsons gives the Dallas Cowboys something they've rarely enjoyed since Jerry Jones' bought the team.
Ask yourself this question, “Who are the Cowboys' best defensive players of the last 30 years?”
Who came to mind? Deion Sanders, Charles Haley, DeMarcus Ware, and Darren Woodson were probably the first names many of you thought of. Depending on how far you went with it, Terence Newman, La'Roi Glover, Leon Lett, Ken Norton Jr., Greg Ellis, Jim Jeffcoat, Russell Maryland, Sean Lee…. we all have our lists.
(And please, blast me in the comments for anyone I forgot to mention.)
Now let's get real for a minute. How many of those guys were ever considered the best in the business when they played? And of the ones who were, how many were actually drafted by the Cowboys?
Deion Sanders is arguably the best defensive player to ever wear The Star, or at least the best of the last three decades. But Primetime was already a superstar before he ever got to Dallas, getting signed in free agency after time with the Falcons and 49ers.
Charles Haley had already won two Super Bowls and been to three Pro Bowls with the 49ers before being traded to the Cowboys in 1992. He became the catalyst for Dallas' defense during the 90s dynasty but, again, wasn't a homegrown star.
Darren Woodson and DeMarcus Ware were drafted by the Cowboys and were among the league's best during their careers. Woodson was a four-time All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowler, and Ware was a nine-time Pro Bowler with multiple All-Pro selections. Both deserve to join Sanders and Haley in the Hall of Fame soon.
Who would be next up after Ware and Woodson? Newman? Ellis? Those great early years from Roy Williams?
You see how quickly the drop-off comes. It's not hard to see how Woody and D-Ware stand in rarified air among defensive players drafted by the Jones-era Cowboys.
Now here comes Micah Parsons, the easy pick for 2021 Defensive Rookie of the Year and legitimate candidate to be Defensive Player of the Year as well. When was the last time any Cowboys defender, even the two greats we just mentioned, took the league by storm the way Micah has?
Going into his second year Parsons is already seen as one of the best defenders, not just linebackers, in football. He's on every list going into 2022 for the top this, best that, and is among the betting favorites for DPOY again.
Even Ware and Woodson needed a couple of years to establish themselves among the league's elite. Parsons did it within his first few games.
As glorious as Micah's rookie year was, naturally it will take sustained success for him to have the HOF credentials of Darren or DeMarcus. But already the best defensive player on his team and perhaps throughout the NFL, Parsons has hit the ground running like few before him and could very well be the Dallas Cowboys' best defensive pick of the last three decades.
Pretty good, huh?