FRISCO, Texas – As far as first impressions go, it was certainly entertaining.
Micah Parsons arrived at his new home, The Star, on Friday afternoon, just hours after being drafted into the organization he had been praying to hear from. And even if Parsons had been manifesting himself as a Dallas Cowboy, he had to admit that becoming one felt a bit surreal.
"Think if you were 21 and you just met Jerry Jones," he said. "It's pretty freaking awesome, I would say."
That was just one of several fantastic one-liners from Parsons, who met with reporters alongside Cowboys officials, and flanked by his large and supportive family. But even as Parsons comes down from the high of hearing his name called, the work is already beginning on how to best use the enormously talented hybrid player.
"Micah's had a chance to meet with Coach Dan Quinn and George Edwards and Scott McCurley, just to get familiar with our direction as a defense and how he fits in," said Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy. "Just as we talked about last night, he's a multi-positional player. He can play off the ball, on the ball, pressure player. Not only is he an excellent fit for our defense, but he's an great fit for our whole team."
There's a lot of coach speak buried in that answer, but it does acknowledge that the Cowboys see a variety of ways they can use their new chess piece – from pressuring the quarterback to dropping in coverage. Sticking true to what seems to be quite a personality, Parsons' own assessment of his game was much more fun.
"I'm always trying to get to the ball, I'm like a ballhawk, I would say – see ball, get ball. 'Water Boy' type," he said.
Credit to Parsons for familiarizing himself with a movie that came out when he was just one year old, but the context is even better than the quote. Because, as the No. 12 overall pick in this draft, the Cowboys will be counting on Parsons to affect opposing offenses in a variety of ways. In addition to all-out effort, he said that versatility is one of his greatest attributes as a player.
"That's the reason why they selected me," he said. "I don't think you can be one-dimensional in this league today, with how many good backs there are – receiving backs and tight ends that are going out to the slot. I think me being versatile could have me here for a long time."
That, of course, is the other fun element of this whole thing. The Cowboys spent the 12th overall pick on a linebacker despite spending a first-round pick on Leighton Vander Esch in 2018 and signing Jaylon Smith to a $68 million contract extension in 2019. Parsons' presence on the roster raises questions about their long-term futures.
The Cowboys weren't worried about that on Thursday night, as McCarthy noted what they can accomplish with three such talented linebackers manning the middle of their defense.
"It makes us better," he said. "Base defense, when you play with three linebackers off the ball, two off the ball and one on the ball. Once again, I'm not trying to be redundant here, it just gives us tremendous position flexibility."
For his part, Parsons said he's ready to come in and learn. Whatever the future might hold, there aren't many better NFL mentors than a pair of veterans with 772 combined career tackles. That doesn't even include the outgoing fellow Penn State alum Sean Lee, who Parsons said has already reached out.
"To start it off, I'm just going to lean on those guys," Parsons said. "Those guys have been here for quite a bit, and they're really good players. I'm going to just learn from them, and I think they're going to take me under their wing and teach me how to become a pro football player and help me get better every day."
It'll be interesting how the Cowboys make it all work, but there's no denying they have more talent on their roster than they did yesterday. And if that wasn't enticing enough, there was one more great nugget from an entertaining opening press conference – Micah Parsons said he hates to lose. After a forgettable 2020 season, that's an attitude the Cowboys can surely get behind.
"We're going to all push each other, and I think once we all come together and play at an elite level, I think this defense can be the best defense in the National Football League," Parsons said.