FRISCO - How good is Micah Parsons, taken with the No. 12 pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, projected to be for the Dallas Cowboys?
He's projected by one expert to have the impact at linebacker that an NFC East competitor has as running back.
“If you ever wondered what it’d be like to watch Saquon Barkley play linebacker, well, that’s Parsons in a nutshell,'' says NFL.com’s draft analyst Lance Zierlein.
Zierlein labeled Parsons as one of his favorite draft selections, crediting the Cowboys with having done "a great job finessing the first round, moving down two spots and acquiring a third-round pick (Chauncey Golston, No. 84) while still landing the premier alpha defender in this draft.''
We still think there was as much "itchy trigger-finger'' stuff going on in the Dallas war room that night, but "finessing the first round''? That's a nicer description.
And Zierlein's description of Parsons' talents? That's also nice.
The linebacker from Penn State - which is also Barkley's school previous to him becoming a star with the New York Giants - "has outrageous speed from sideline to sideline,'' Zierlein says. "He’s a terrific open-field tackler and a plus pass rusher who helps to diversify the Cowboys’ linebacking corps. ... He should be the Defensive Rookie of the Year favorite.”
Parsons is indeed the favorite for that award, and the speed and the measurables are all part of that. He recorded a 34″ vertical jump. At 6-3 and 245 pounds, he has a 79-inch wingspan ... Oh, and he recorded a 4.39 40 ... which essentially matches Barkley's.
The Cowboys consider him a cornerstone player in new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn's system, and now have a crowd of guys at the position as Dallas added Keanu Neal in free agency then drafted Parsons along with "top steal of the draft'' Jabril Cox in addition to employing holdover starters Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith.
Parsons says he, Vander Esch and Smith can make Dallas into "Linebacker U'' (Penn State's nickname) in the pros, adding that their work together will simulate a "terrorist attack.''
That's a politically-incorrect analogy, but we get it.
Comparing a linebacker to a running back is an unusual analogy, too, but ... we get it as well.