Could Micah Parsons Fit at DE for Cowboys?

Jun 8, 2021; Frisco, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons (11) runs a drill during voluntary Organized Team Activities at the Ford Center at the Star Training Facility in Frisco, Texas. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

When the Dallas Cowboys drafted Micah Parsons back in April with the twelfth pick, he was mainly projected to fill the linebacker position with the retirement of longtime Cowboy Sean Lee.

However, things have changed, at least when it comes to minicamp drills. Tuesday reports showed that Parsons was lining up at the defensive end position. New defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has been using the rookie from Penn State as a DPR, or a Designated Pass Rusher, while also giving the former Nittany Lion a few snaps at middle linebacker.

On working with Quinn’s system and filling that need, Parsons noted to the Dallas Morning News, “Just creating havoc, creating disruption. Being able to create that excitement, momentum change, a chance to get the ball out and get it back to our explosive offense. That’s kind of what I like about pass rushing.”

This year’s Cowboys defense has a deep linebacker group, with names on the list such as Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, and safety-turned-linebacker Keanu Neal. On the defensive line, two stars are also returning in ends DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory. But being the DPR isn’t new for Parsons, as he did see some snaps at defensive end in his career at Penn State.

Parsons is also known for being a speed threat on defense, as shown on Tuesday. According to the Dallas Morning News, “On one play, Parsons flew off the edge against backup tackle Ty Nsekhe causing the eight-year veteran from Texas State to lose his balance and head to the sidelines to get checked by the medical staff. Nsekhe returned, yet it’s Parsons’ speed that gives the Cowboys more defensive players to utilize.”

The versatility that Parsons has gives the former Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn a chance to utilize him at multiple levels on defense. While that could be seen as a lot of pressure for the no. 12 overall pick, the rookie sees the events and camp as a learning opportunity and a transition phase.

As the preparation for training camp continues, Parsons is still working out the kinks of a new NFL system.

“Honestly, the last two weeks have been a big transition phase for me,” he said. “Obviously learning more checks, being more vocal, playing a new position, actually playing multiple positions. It has been pretty hectic for me, but I think each and every day I’m picking up something and just going out there making early mistakes. That way, I’m creating a base and a ground, getting ready for camp.”

Day one of minicamp for America’s Team had many highlights on the defensive side of the ball, including Parsons’ bull-rushing and better communication, according to defensive back Anthony Brown. One reason that has boosted the communication has been props given in the film room.

As Parsons noted, “Last week we were watching film of pass rush and D-Law (DeMarcus Lawrence) came up to me and was like, ‘You pass rush like that, Rook?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I used to be a defensive end.’ He was like, ‘All right, tap in with me.’ Me and him have been getting closer. If he’s out there, he’ll help me out and we’ll talk a little bit. Coming up here after OTAs are over, we’re going to work together before camp starts.”

After being a stud at Penn State, the Cowboys have found themselves a bright defensive future star in Micah Parsons. Whether he’s used at defensive end or linebacker, he will be an explosive player from the get-go.