The Dallas Cowboys got a generational talent at linebacker in Micah Parsons, but was it the right move in the 2021 NFL Draft?
If you put on any Penn State game from 2019, you’ll find that it doesn’t take long for linebacker Micah Parsons to make his presence felt. The defensive star was one of the highest linebacker recruits coming out of high school in 2017 and expanded on his reputation with two terrific years as the star defender for the Nittany Lions.
The Dallas Cowboys, have invested a lot of draft capital in linebackers in recent years. In 2016, they were the team that was first willing to take a chance on Notre Dame star, Jaylon Smith, despite having a serious knee injury with potential nerve damage. Two years later, they spent their first-round draft choice on Boise State’s Leighton Vander Esch.
Unfortunately, Smith has struggled since earning a massive contract extension and Vander Esch can’t seem to stay on the field because of his neck issues. Because of this, we knew that linebacker was going to be on Dallas’ radar early in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Apparently, it wasn’t their first plan of attack. It was rumored that the Cowboys wanted cornerback, Patrick Surtain II. But after both he and Jaycee Horn went off the board in back-to-back picks before Dallas was on the clock, they elected to trade back from the 10th overall pick to the 12th selection in the draft. It was there that they took Micah Parsons.
Parsons may have been the wrong choice for the Dallas Cowboys
When it comes to talent, Parsons has loads of it. However, he also comes with some baggage attached to his name. Though it was never brought up at the 2021 NFL Draft this year, the talented linebacker was involved in a bullying incident that included some unspeakable accusations.
While nothing ever became of this and the charges were later dropped, some scouts have described him as an Alpha leader, but not the kind that most desire. Whether this is true or not, we will likely find out early in his NFL career.
Even if Parsons turns out to be an upstanding teammate and model leader, there will always be the question about whether or not the Cowboys passed up some potential better (or at least more important) prospects that were available to them.
Though Dallas already has some talent on their offensive line, both Rashawn Slater and Alijah Vera-Tucker were ripe for the picking. Both players have the ability to play inside and outside, and many likened Slater to their very own Zach Martin – one of the best offensive linemen in the game. With an aging unit that struggled in 2020, Slater seemed like a great choice with the 12th pick.
Additionally, Dallas could have traded back even further to land a talented linebacker like Zaven Collins or Jamin Davis. Both players were big and long with exceptional athletic traits but didn’t have the off-field concerns of a player like Parsons.
At the end of the day, I have little doubt that Micah Parsons is going to prove to be one of the most talented linebackers in the league, but Dallas Cowboys fans may always be wondering in the back of their minds if this was the right move. I guess we will just have to let this play out and see.