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Offseason | 2023

If Micah Moves, Who Replaces His LB Presence?


FRISCO, Texas — Micah Parsons made headlines last week when he mentioned to reporters that he was bulking his body to primarily line up as a defensive lineman in 2023 as he gets set to hone in on his pass rushing ability full-time for his third season in Dallas.

While the Cowboys haven't confirmed nor denied the possibility, it shouldn't come as too big of a surprise considering his usage in 2022 compared to 2021. In his second season, Parsons played 80.5-percent of his defensive snaps as a defensive lineman compared to just 41.4-percent as a rookie.

While Parsons does have the ability to get his body up to around 255 pounds and fully abandon his presence in the second level as a linebacker, the move would leave a pretty sizable hole that would be open for replacement ahead of next season. For Parsons, it's viewed as a necessary requirement to be as dominant as he wants to be as a pass-rusher.

"It's hard battling 300-pound guys at 245 pounds every week," Parsons said. "I'm just trying to put on pounds of muscle, eating right and living right."

There will be options to replace Parsons' presence in the second level, but experience within those options is hard to come by as the combination of Jabril Cox, Damone Clark, DeMarvion Overshown and Devin Harper all have just 17 games of NFL defensive experience combined. Malik Jefferson and Takk McKinley have more reps to their name, but can the Cowboys consider those guys reliable on a down-to-down basis?

"We're a young room," Leighton Vander Esch said. "I thought we were young last year, but this year we're even younger. It's gonna be fun. We got a lot to learn still and a long way to develop."

"They don't want to let this opportunity slip. They want to make the most of their opportunities when they present themselves and contribute every single way that they see possible. They just gotta come in and work the hardest."

Vander Esch has become the veteran presence in the linebacker room, and he's taken it upon himself to help speed up the development of the guys around him, including second-year linebacker Damone Clark.

"I think this [season] is gonna be huge for Damone," Vander Esch said. "We've been training pretty much the whole offseason, even before we reported together. Strength-wise, intelligence-wise, he's just gonna get that much better. I think he's gonna make tremendous strides."

DeMarvion Overshown's addition to the room could be the ultimate wildcard, considering his athleticism and his ability to rush the passer and cover space in the second level. For the rookie, he is willing to do whatever is needed to earn a major role as early as 2023.

"Any and everywhere," Overshown said about where he expects to be used. "Right now, starting with the 'Will' (weakside linebacker) position. (Dan Quinn) has a plan for me, just moving me around what I was doing in college is kind of what they see with the Dallas defense. Moving a lot of plays around and playing along the big guys off the edge. I know Coach Quinn has a plan for me, and like I said, I'm so excited to work and whatever they need me to do, I'm going to do it."

Not that it should be a surprise, but Overshown allowed us to see that there is a plan in Dan Quinn's mind. What does that plan look like exactly? Time will tell, but early indications show that he will have hunger in the second level within multiple bodies that are vying to earn the starting role that has been vacated.

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