(Editor's Note: With the offseason program in the rearview mirror, it's time to look ahead. As part of the preparation for training camp, this series will introduce 25 key players who are new to the Cowboys' roster, rookies and veterans alike. We'll continue the series with linebacker Micah Parsons.)
How He Got Here: Parsons was the consolation prize for the Cowboys' disappointing and frustrating 2020 season. Dallas drafted him out of Penn State with the No. 12 overall pick to shore up the defense. Parsons was widely considered to be the best linebacker in the draft class and his explosiveness and athleticism makes his range consist of virtually the entire field. He sat out the 2020 college football season, but he earned the Defensive MVP of the 2019 Cotton Bowl (played at AT&T Stadium) where he recorded 14 tackles, two sacks, and two forced fumbles.
What's Next: Parsons joins two veteran linebackers in Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch, but you can still pencil him in as a strong candidate for the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year. How exactly he'll be used isn't certain, but the Cowboys will surely figure out how to get him on the field constantly. They wouldn't have drafted him in the first round if they didn't believe that he could play a traditional linebacker role that covers the whole field, spies the quarterback, covers tight ends, and snuffs out the run game, similar to what Smith has been asked to do in recent years. But if they don't want to put that level of responsibility on him immediately he would still provide instant value as a designated pass rusher.
Bet You Didn't Know: In high school, Parsons' athleticism translated into offense as well as defense. He was a running back at Harrisburg High school in Pennsylvania. His senior season he rushed for 1,239 yards and 27 touchdowns. That went along with 9.5 sacks and an interception on defense.
Quotable: "I'm not as vocal as most guys think. But when you're around all these talented players you'll be like, 'Man, that's The Guy.' But then I always remember, like, I'm That Guy, too. I'm here for a reason. I always keep that in the back of my head. They're good, but I'm good, too. I've just got to show that every day." -Micah Parsons