Three ways Micah Parsons impacts the Dallas Cowboys

Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Well, Jerry Jones sure knows how to make a splash, doesn’t he? Football fans around the world were surely stunned when the announcement came across their screens on Thursday night that the Dallas Cowboys made a trade with the division rival Philadelphia Eagles. Dallas received Philadelphia’s first (no. 12) and third-round picks (no. 84 overall) this season and in the process gave them their 10th overall pick.

The Eagles used that on Heisman Trophy-winning wide receiver DeVonta Smith, while the Cowboys drafted former Penn State linebacker, Micah Parsons. Both teams are happy. Dallas gets one of the premier defensive players in the draft, while Philadelphia drafted Smith in hopes of finally landing elite talent at receiver.

Effectively, the Cowboys still got the player they wanted, ensured that Smith went to the less imminent division threat for now (the New York Giants picking at 11 were heavily speculated to pick Smith if he was available), and picked up another top 100-pick the process.

While Dallas really seemed to want to select a corner in either Jaycee Horn or Patrick Surtain II, both were gone by the time they were on the clock. Instead, they picked up a hyper-athletic linebacker who was largely considered to be one of the three best defensive players in the entire draft.

The selection of Parsons will have some far-reaching consequences for America’s Team long after the draft is over. So as we look ahead, here three ways that drafting Micah Parsons impacts the Dallas Cowboys.

1. The Dallas Cowboys will be putting more pressure on opposing Quarterbacks

Micah Parsons is an athletic freak who can help set a new tempo for a defense that sorely needs some. The rookie linebacker does a lot of things really well. But, one of the things that he truly excels at is his ability to generate pressure on opposing offenses.

As a Sophomore with Penn State in 2019, he led the team with 109 tackles but also had 14 tackles for a loss and five sacks. This ability is going to open up some new things for defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. When Jerry Jones was asked about picking Parsons, he explicitly mentioned the pressure he’s going to bring.

With his talent and skillset, Micah Parsons is certainly not the kind of player you want to see coming off the field on third down, because he has a great ability to get after opposing quarterbacks. The Dallas Cowboys need to find an identity on defense, and with Parsons on the roster that identity might be getting a bit more aggressive.

2. The Cowboys will likely decline Leighton Vander Esch’s fifth-year option

The Dallas Cowboys have a big decision to make. Next week they need to decide whether or not they will be picking up or declining linebacker Leighton Vander Esch‘s fifth-year option. In 2018 the Cowboys spent a first-round pick on Vander Esch out of Boise State. As the season progressed he looked like a steal for them at the 19th overall pick. He earned a Pro Bowl nod his rookie season, starting 11 games and racking up 140 tackles.

Between Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith, it felt like Cowboys fans were witnessing the start of something special in 2018 as the defense was led by arguably the best young linebacking corps in the game. However, it hasn’t really developed that way. Smith’s on-field play has visibly regressed in consecutive years, while Vander Esch has played just 19 games in the last two seasons.

Drafting Parsons likely means that the Cowboys won’t be picking up Vander Esch’s option and will instead make him play out his contract year. Assuming he’s healthy, Vander Esch still figures to be a big part of the defense this season even with Parsons on the roster. How he will respond will go a long way towards how successful the team will be on defense, and towards securing his future in or out of Dallas.

3. The Dallas Cowboys need to take a defensive back sooner rather than later

No doubt it, regardless of how much potential Parsons has, seeing the Cowboys miss out on both Patrick Surtain II and Jaycee Horn in the first round hurts. Currently, Dallas has gaping holes all over the secondary and they need to inject some new talent into it.

There are some intriguing prospects available for the Cowboys on the drafts’ second night and many of them play defensive back. That’s a good thing as Dallas still needs significant help at safety and an outside corner to pair with Trevon Diggs as he enters his second season with the team. Players like TCU safety Trevon Moehrig and Syracuse corner Ifeatu Melifonwu could be there, among others, when the team goes to turn in their draft card.

They should have ample chances to address their needs as they hold four picks between rounds two and three (nos. 44, 75, 84, and 99). They have the ammunition to either maneuver a trade up to ensure they can get someone they like, or stand pat and grab some significant talent with whoever is available.

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While they could wait until later on to draft someone, the Cowboys don’t just need depth from their defensive backs. They need someone who can come in and play meaningful snaps. However they choose to address it, the secondary needs to be a focal point.