Micah Parsons' name had been connected to the Dallas Cowboys by fans and various prognosticators since late in the 2020 NFL season. Various injuries had torpedoed the Cowboys' playoff chances, and a top-15 pick was looking more and more likely. It's impossible to predict how a draft will play out months ahead of time, but one thing seemed obvious enough: Parsons, who opted out of his 2020 season with Penn State, had top top-15 talent.
Linking Parsons to the Cowboys have been pure speculation at the time, but there was one person who wanted it to become reality: Micah Parsons. If you couldn't see the excitement when he jumped towards NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to give him a bear hug, he made it clear in his conference call with the media moments after being drafted.
"I put out into the world that I wanted to be a Cowboy, and I'm just glad that my dream came true," Parsons said Thursday night.
Parsons will be penciled in as an anchor and playmaker of the Cowboys defense as soon as Week 1, but it won't be the first time that he has shown his abilities in AT&T Stadium. In fact, he had a dominant performance as the 2019 Cotton Bowl MVP against Memphis. That was when the notion of being a Dallas Cowboy became something he envisioned for himself.
"I wanted to finish what I started," Parsons said. "I fell in love with that stadium."
He recorded 14 tackles (three for a loss), two sacks, and two forced fumbles in that game, and he expects it to be the first of many shows he puts on in that building. His selection as the No. 12 overall pick by the Cowboys came only three days after the official announcement of Sean Lee's retirement, which left an opening in the linebacker rotation and an even bigger vacuum in defensive leadership. The Cowboys selected Lee out of Penn State with the 55th overall pick in 2010, and they went right back to what is nicknamed "Linebacker U" to select Parsons 11 years later.
"I know what Sean represents," Parsons said. "Hopefully one day, we can link up in Dallas and I can use him as a great mentor and get better."
If all goes according to plan, the Cowboys' linebacker core will be made up of three young linebackers all drafted with first or second round draft picks: Parsons, Jaylon Smith, and Leighton Vander Esch. The speed, athleticism, instincts, and pedigree between the three of them is a rare combination, and Parsons expects to be the final piece.
"If all three of us can find a way to play together and stay healthy, it will be something scary," Parsons said.
Parsons, who told Cowboys fans that they can expect a "fast and instinctual" player, also said that he was hoping to be drafted by the Cowboys for the opportunity to practice against their playmakers. "I knew I'd be going against the best offense in America all season, and that was going to make me better."
The 21-year-old grew up a lot closer to Eagles and Steelers country in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, but both of his parents were Cowboys fans. Friday, he'll fly down to The Star to make his dream official. When he spoke to Jerry Jones on the phone just after being drafted, he had a pretty clear message for the man who is counting on him to help turn around his defense.
"I [told him] 'This is all I ever wanted.'"