Dallas Cowboys 2021 first-round draft pick Micah Parsons is expected to make an impact right out of the gate. The Penn State is currently the betting favorite to take home 2021 Defensive Rookie of the Year honors — and for good reason. He will have several opportunities to make impact plays in Dan Quinn’s scheme.
The vast majority of Cowboys fans were hoping for a corner in round one, but that is not how the cards fell. Parsons, at least, is considered one of the best overall talents in the class, so there is an opportunity for the Dallas defense to be improved.
Parsons should compete for a starting gig as soon as week one. The Cowboys aren’t planning on keeping their top-15 draft pick on the sideline. Fortunately, Parsons could fit in very well with what Dallas will likely ask him to do.
HOW PARSONS FITS INTO THE COWBOYS DEFENSE
Taking off-ball linebackers with so many other needs probably isn’t the best use of resources in the top-15 of the draft. That said, Micah Parsons is a unique talent that has the ability to make the Cowboys look smart for taking him.
The Athletic NFL film analyst Ted Nguyen recently outlined his favorite scheme and player fits from the 2021 NFL Draft. Landing in the top-5 is Micah Parsons to the Dallas Cowboys.
Play style: Explosive, physical off-ball linebacker who can rush the passer.
Scheme: 3-4 hybrid, single-high coverage.
The Cowboys needed help on every level of the defense and took the most talented defensive player on the board in Parsons. The versatile linebacker could help on the first and second levels of Dan Quinn’s 3-4 hybrid defense.
Nguyen writes that Parsons is a “versatile linebacker” that “could help on the first and second levels of Dan Quinn’s 3-4 hybrid defense”. That is music to Cowboys fans ears. Dallas has been lacking versatile playmakers on that side of the ball for a while now. Parsons has the chance to solve some of those issues.
Quinn said Parsons is a linebacker and he doesn’t like making player-to-player comparisons when someone brought up how similar Parsons is to Vic Beasley and Bruce Irvin (whom Quinn previously coached). However, it’s hard to deny how similar Parsons is to those players in stature and skill. All three are 6-3 and weigh in the 245-pound range. Irvin played some sam linebacker in base packages and rushed the passer on passing downs. Parsons played off-ball at Penn State, but according to The Athletic’s Dane Brugler, he played more edge than linebacker. He also rushed the passer on blitzes and on the edge at Penn State, finishing with five sacks in 2019.
Nguyen points to how Parsons has similarities to defenders that previously played under Quinn: Bruce Irvin and Vic Beasley. All three have very similar size profiles and all three have the ability to rush the passer. Interestingly enough, Parsons has a lot of experience blitzing from the edge.
I can see Parsons playing a similar role as Irvin did for Quinn. His ability to rush the passer is too valuable not to use. Additionally, he’ll need time to develop his ability to play zone coverage — he was undisciplined in college. Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said he wanted to be more aggressive and play more man. Parsons has the athletic ability and feet to be very effective covering running backs out of the backfield, which he could do on the edge on third downs. His versatility could cause confusion for opposing offenses.
It is clear that rushing the passer and getting into the backfield is Parsons’ best trait. He has a special ability to disrupt plays and create fear in opposing quarterbacks thanks to his explosiveness.
Parsons won’t be an edge rusher with the Dallas Cowboys, but it will be interesting to see how much they utilize Parsons’ strengths, particularly blitzes. It is no secret that the Cowboys are wanting to become more aggressive on defense, and Parsons fits that to a T.
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