It doesn’t take much to know and understand that Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons is a special player. Not only is he incredibly fast, athletic, and strong, but his ability to be able to play multiple positions (and play them all well) is nothing short of impressive.
The reigning unanimous Defensive Rookie of the Year came into this league as an off-ball linebacker. He was excellent at that role from the moment he stepped onto the field in Week 1. However, injuries to other defensive players on the roster led Parsons to show fans the Swiss Army-knife player he truly is.
When DeMarcus Lawrence broke his foot and Rangy Gregory had to sit out due to COVID-19, the rookie was there to step up. Parsons was quick to the quarterback and thrived in an edge-rushing position. There were even times when the Penn State product lined up at cornerback last season.
However, when absent players returned, Parsons was moved to a rover-type role. Because of both his versatility and the loss of Randy Gregory this offseason, many fans were wondering if the Cowboys should move the 23-year-old to DE permanently.
Head coach Mike McCarthy was quick to shut that idea down back in March. McCarthy told reporters that his adaptability is what makes Parsons special and the team has no intentions of changing that:
“I know as an offensive guy, you’re helping me if you can line him up at one position every time,” McCarthy said.
With uncertainty about who will lineup alongside Lawrence this season, Cowboys DC Dan Quinn was asked about the young player’s usage as well. In an interview with 105.3 The Fan at training camp, Quinn seemed to agree with the approach that McCarthy previously stated.
Dan Quinn said that Cowboys LB Micah Parsons will remain a rover-type of player rather than moving to DE
"“I think that’s what makes his skill set so unique. There’s a lot of players that can be on the edge. We’ve seen excellent players, hall of fame players that can rip the edge. There’s not a lot of guys that can move in and out of two spots. It actually causes a lot of matchup problems.The ways that we feature him and try to utilize him… I think also because of his speed it allows us to matchup and have some people behind the ball with that kind of speed.I love the role that he plays. Inside outside. And then using his speed. I’m pleased with how we are featuring him today.” -Dan Quinn"
There’s no doubt that having an elite pass rusher has become an incredibly important component of an NFL roster as of late. Some teams even talk about getting away from the linebacker position and focusing more on attacking the quarterback, given how prominent the passing game has gotten over the last few years.
But the reality is that keeping a “Lion” like Parsons in one position does him a disservice and only helps opponents. The Cowboys’ defensive coordinator gets the argument for moving his young defender to defensive end… he just simply doesn’t agree with it.
"“If you knew where he was on all of the plays, you’d say ‘Hey, I’m going to make sure this guy doesn’t ruin the game.’ And so another tight end or another back would go chip to him. And that’s the challenge of having somebody who can play left side, right side. I get your argument, but with his specific skills… it makes sense to balance the two spots.”"
At this point, we’ve heard it from McCarthy and Quinn and even Parsons himself always talks about how he prides himself on his versatility. Don’t expect the defending DROY to get pigeonholed this season.