Dallas Cowboys: Grading potential first-round selections

Kyle Pitts, Florida Gators, (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Kyle Pitts, Florida Gators, (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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Micah Parsons, Penn State Nittany Lions
Micah Parsons, Penn State Nittany Lions, (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

Micah Parsons, LB (Penn State)

Prospect Grade: A
Chances of falling to ten: Medium
Level of need: Medium-Low

The Dallas Cowboys defense was objectively awful in 2020. The team gave up the fifth-most points per game in the NFL with 29.6. Needless to say, most of Dallas’s needs are on the defensive side of the ball.

The Cowboys need a difference-maker on defense and that has resulted in some fans and analysts singling out linebacker Micah Parsons as a potential selection for the team with its top pick. Potential off-the-field issues aside, it is clear to see why some see Parsons as a potential answer to the teams’ longstanding defensive woes.

The Penn State defender chose to opt-out of the 2020 college football season following a dominant performance in 2019. The 21-year old racked up an impressive 14 tackles for a loss, five sacks, and 109 total tackles that year, good for the third-most in the competitive Big Ten. He also managed to accrue an impressive six forced fumbles during his two-years’ with the Nittany Lions.

The dominant college linebacker potentially cemented his status as the best defensive player in this draft class during his outstanding performance at Penn State’s Pro Day. Parsons posted a ridiculous 4.39 (unofficial) 40-time while finishing the three-cone drill in only 6.89 seconds.

The six-foot-three, nearly 250-pound defender has a truly rare combination of size, speed, and explosiveness. However, the Cowboys simply do not have that great of a need at the linebacker position.

Dallas’s linebacker core is currently led by former first-round pick Leighton Vander Esch who, injury concerns aside, is a relatively young and talented linebacker in his own right, and Jaylon Smith, who led the Dallas Cowboys in total tackles last season with 154. The team also signed edge rusher Tarrell Basham and former Atlanta Falcon safety Keanu Neal this offseason, both players are expected to play some linebacker for Dallas next year.

Those previously mentioned off-the-field issues are also of concern for Dallas at the tenth overall pick. Despite the fact that Micah Parsons is arguably the best defensive player in this draft the Penn State standout simply does not fill a pressing need for the team and that, combined with those pesky off-the-field concerns, should be enough to keep America’s Team from taking him with their top pick.

Grade: C