Micah Parsons is one of the most versatile linebackers to come out of the draft in recent seasons, and that skillset is going to put him in the mix for a three-down role right out of the gate. By now we have all seen highlights of what made him a Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year award winner, but what gets me the most excited about seeing him in the silver and blue is his elite pass-rushing ability.
I don't think that it is a stretch to say that he is the best pass rusher in his entire draft class. In fact, it was this skill that made him such a highly valued recruit coming out of high school. As a senior, he finished with 10.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss (While also adding 1200 rushing yards which just highlights his freak athleticism).
He made the switch to linebacker once he stepped on the campus at Penn St., and immediately made an impact as a Freshman All-American, leading the team in tackles despite starting only one game. As a sophomore, he stepped into a starting role and led the team in tackles yet again, while also adding 14 tackles for a loss, five sacks, and five passes defended.
Parsons opted out of the 2020 season and his absence was felt, as the Nittany Lions fell apart without him on the field anchoring the defense.
At 6'3” and 240 lbs, he has the rare size/speed/explosiveness combination that will allow him to get off blocks and consistently beat his guy to the spot to make plays in the backfield from day one. Simply put, you can plug Parsons into any of the three linebacker spots and get production, and that is exactly what I see Dan Quinn doing with him this year.
He can line up as the middle or as the weak-side LB on first and second downs. On third down, Parsons can shift over to the edge to rush the passer while rotating in guys like safety-turned-linebacker Keanu Neal and the recently drafted Jabril Cox to drop back into coverage.
Cowboys Nation felt a sense of panic on day one of the draft when both of the top cornerbacks were selected right in front of the Cowboys picking at 10. However, landing Parsons could end up being a blessing as it gives the team a lot more flexibility in deciding what to do with Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch.
When trying to project out the next few seasons, you honestly couldn't have picked a better running-mate for Parsons than 4th round pick Jabril Cox. Cox's ability as a nickel linebacker complements what Parsons can do perfectly.
Even if Smith and Vander Esch aren't able to return to their previous form after a down 2020 season, it is safe to say the future is bright for the Cowboys linebacking corps with Micah Parsons leading the way.