When you think about the greatest linebackers in football, names like Lawrence Taylor, Charles Haley, and Dick Butkus likely come to mind. Dallas Cowboys LB Micah Parsons is trying to add his name to that list. In one rookie season alone, he’s been able to climb the ranks as one of the best in the league. If he continues on this path, he very may well join those greats in the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day.
But, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. How does Parsons compare to the linebackers of today? According to CBS Sports’s Jordan Dajani, the Cowboys LB is the best of the best. Dajani put together a list of the 10 best linebackers in the league using Pro Football Focus grades, Pro Football Reference’s Approximate Value, and general stats from 2021.
It is important to note that Dajani did not include 3-4 pass rushers like T.J. Watt and Harold Landry in his list of players. Here were Dajani’s top 10:
- Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys
- Bobby Wagner, Los Angeles Rams
- Darius Leonard, Indianapolis Colts
- Fred Warner, San Francisco 49ers
- Demario Davis, New Orleans Saints
- Eric Kendricks, Minnesota Vikings
- Roquan Smith, Chicago Bears
- Devin White, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- De’Vondre Campbell, Green Bay Packers
Cowboys’ Micah Parsons ranked the No. 1 linebacker in the NFL by CBS Sports
To earn a top spot amongst the league’s best after just one year of work says a lot about the Cowboys LB. There is so much that makes Parsons special. For starters, he is one of the most versatile defenders in the NFL. He lined up at edge rusher, linebacker, and even cornerback last season and excelled at them all.
The Penn State product is also an elite athlete. He’s fast. He’s strong. And his competitiveness and reaction time help him to take down quarterbacks, running backs, and receivers with ease. The writer included this tweet to prove just how impactful Parsons is in this league.
Dajani was very detailed in his reasoning for picking Parsons as No. 1:
We thought about if Parsons should even be included in this list since he played a fair amount of pass-rusher last season, but the bottom line is that Parsons is a great linebacker who can wear several different hats on defense. Parsons is versatile, smart and instinctive. You don’t do what he did in his rookie season if you aren’t a star. NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowler.
While Parsons proved to be a stud pass-rusher, some had questions about his coverage ability coming into the league. Parsons actually finished No. 12 among linebackers in 2021 with a PFF coverage grade of 70 in 295 coverage snaps. If you go back and watch him play throughout his rookie season, you’ll not only see a talented pass-rusher, but a good linebacker that can read and react quickly. A defender who can blow up screen plays and make takedowns in the open field.
Is Parsons the greatest linebacker in the league heading into 2022? Can he repeat or even improve on the success he had in his rookie campaign? Let us know what you think.