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Micah Parsons To Fit In Early & Often For Dallas Cowboys’ Defense

Shortly after Micah Parsons was taken with the No. 12 overall pick in the NFL Draft by the Cowboys Thursday night, the Nittany Lion explained he’d been dreaming about going to Dallas for the past year.

Growing up with parents who were Cowboys fans in Harrisburg, Parsons likely won’t have any trouble fitting into his new defense. Aside from the fact that he’s seemingly bought into the culture, the star linebacker’s timing couldn’t have been any better.

While Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith are both established players in the Cowboys’ linebacking core, the group certainly needs some more depth at the position. Fellow Nittany Lion Sean Lee announced his retirement from football earlier this week after an 11-year career in Dallas. The former Penn State star’s career was hampered a bit by injuries, but he still managed some impressive seasons for the Cowboys, including a 2016 season in which he was named first-team All-Pro.

Parsons now has a clear opportunity to carry the ‘Linebacker U’ tradition in Texas. He’ll likely get the chance to do it right away, as well. The Cowboys haven’t picked a linebacker in the first round since Vander Esch in 2018, and considering how early he contributed to the defense, don’t be surprised if they expect plenty from Parsons right off the bat.

While reported “character concerns” caused some discussion that the Nittany Lion may drop in the first round, the Cowboys clearly liked what they saw over the course of his career and in the past few months. Who could blame them?

After an astounding two-year career in Happy Valley that included 191 total tackles, 6.5 sacks, and a legendary Cotton Bowl performance, Parsons further proved his athleticism at Penn State’s Pro Day in March. The 6’3″, 245-pound linebacker ran a blazing 4.39-second 40-yard dash, put up 19 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press, and had a 34-inch vertical jump.

While he was the third defensive player taken in this year’s draft, Parsons has a clear argument as the best athlete of any defender in this year’s player pool.

Dallas allowed 386.4 yards per game to opposing offenses last season, a mark that put it well in the bottom-half of the NFL. Parsons won’t necessarily improve the defense overnight, but his unquestioned ability to get to the ball and make plays with ease will certainly be a huge addition to the unit.

The nature of mock drafts led to Parsons’ stock dropping up and down often, but that’s clearly all over now. The Cowboys scooped him up early, and now the stud linebacker can let his play do the talking. That’s something he’s wanted to do since questions about off-field issues reportedly arose.

“If someone is gonna judge me over that, I’d rather not be in their program,” Parsons said after the Pro Day. “I know the type of person I’m becoming and the father I’m becoming, and that’s all that matters to me…If it’s gonna come down to something I did in high school or something I wish I could change, I can only control what I can control moving forward. That’s how I feel about it.”

In a statement Thursday night, Parsons’ former head coach James Franklin explained exactly what Dallas will get in the young star.

“He will be a great addition to the Cowboys. What separates Micah from others is his intense competitive nature,” Franklin said. “The Cowboys are getting a phenomenal talent who is sharp, thoughtful, and is just beginning to scratch the surface of what he is capable of becoming.”

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About the Author

Will Pegler

Will is a senior majoring in digital and print journalism and is an associate editor for Onward State. He is from Darien, Connecticut and is a lifelong Penn State football fan. He loves a good 80's comedy movie, Peaky Blinders, The Office, and the New York Yankees and Giants. You can catch some of his ridiculous sports takes on his Twitter @gritdude and yell at him on his email [email protected]

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