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Mailbag: Should Parsons Be A Full-Time DE?


Micah Parsons recently said he's moving to defensive end full time, but does Dallas have a good enough linebacking corps to afford him doing so? Besides Leighton Vander Esch, the others are going to be really young or have mainly been seen on special teams. On the other hand, the team has more depth at defensive end and are all pretty battle-tested. I don't know that I understand this move. – Josh Hanson/San Antonio

Nick Eatman: I've gone back and forth on this one over the last few years, starting out with the idea that it's better for him to play a little bit of both, to keep the offenses guessing somewhat. Then again, the great pass-rushers seem to be a problem for all teams, no matter where they line up. I think I've changed my tune now to simply finding the ways to get him on the field - and keep him on the field - the longest. As a pass rusher, you have to take a few more plays off than you would as a linebacker. But still, it comes down to making him the most effective. And it doesn't matter who else is playing defensive end and who else is there at linebacker. This is all about Micah Parsons, because no one else is remotely close to his skill-set. So the Cowboys have to figure this out this year - how to get Parsons on the field and effective. If that means he's a full-time rusher, then put him there. But Dan Quinn and this defense has to also figure out ways to keep teams - the Eagles especially - from neutralizing him and making him a non-factor. Keeping him in the mix for the majority of the games, that's the role Parsons needs to play.

Nick Harris: If you look at how the defense lined up in 2022, it wouldn't be entirely different from what will happen if Parsons makes the full-time move to defensive end in 2023. Parsons lined up at defensive end on 80.5-percent of snaps in 2022, so increasing that number up into the high 90s wouldn't be as much of a shock to the defense as some would expect. However, you present a good point with the inexperience in the linebacker room. There's hope that one of Devin Harper, DeMarvion Overshown or Jabril Cox can prove to be a reliable option in the second level, but even if they can't, there is enough fluidity on the roster in the box that can allow for some positional versatility between the second and third levels. Regardless, I think it will be a fascinating element to see play out in training camp and preseason, as it could show to be the new weakness on the defense after the front office worked to address the defensive tackle deficiency in the draft, or it could be a newfound strength with someone stepping up.

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