Rookie linebacker Micah Parsons took the NFL by storm in 2021. The Dallas Cowboys’ 11th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft ended his first year in the league with several awards and honors. The Penn State product established a Dallas rookie record with 13 sacks, ranked third in the NFL with 20 tackles for loss, and was the only first-year player picked as an AP first-team All-Pro. Part of the reason Parsons was so incredible was his versatility. The rookie entered the NFL as an off-ball linebacker but ended up taking snaps at multiple positions on the defense.
When DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory were out with injury, Parsons took snaps as an edge rusher. He didn’t just fill in. He excelled. Parsons quickly became known as a Swiss Army knife succeeded no matter where he took snaps. With the unexpected departure of Gregory during this offseason, many wondered if the rookie would be switched from a linebacker to a defensive end. Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy understood the idea but said the change wouldn’t happen. Why? Because the head coach feels that it’s Parsons’ versatility that makes him such a threat to other teams.
“I know as an offensive guy… you’re helping me if you can line him up at one position every time,” McCarthy said. He also pointed out that out of his 13 sacks, the total was split almost in half between defensive end and linebacker.
Dallas knows they have the ability to confuse other offenses by allowing Parsons to line up all over the field. It seems as though he will be ready and willing to take snaps from any given position. There is still a gap left by Gregory’s absence, but the addition of Dante Fowler Jr. and the potential of added defensive line draft picks should hopefully help.
Cowboys HC Mike McCarthy said that Micah Parsons will not be switching to edge rusher. The team wants him to move around the field to create chaos.
Parsons’ adaptability is a huge help for the Cowboys. While he will remain a linebacker on the roster, teams have to be prepared to see him move back and forth between positions to mix things up.
The 22-year-old himself has said that he prides himself on being the most versatile player in the league. When Parsons and TJ Watt were the top contenders for Defensive Player of the Year, many were quick to point out that Watt was setting sack records and Parsons wasn’t. However, Parsons pointed out that the reason his sack numbers weren’t as high is that he was willing to sacrifice his individual stats to help his team.
The Cowboys linebacker didn’t see losing the award as a bad thing. He is ready to use it as fuel to come back and have an even stronger second year in the league. Parsons brings a level of play and skillfulness that is quite rare. His head coach is fully ready to take advantage of that by letting him line up all over the field.
“The people that say, ‘Hey, why don’t you play him at defensive end?’ very fair. That’s a very fair question,” McCarthy said. “But we’ve made it clear: We want him moving around.”