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Giving Thanks: Cowboys Rookie Micah Parsons on 'Representing The Star'

Micah Parsons is proving to be one heck of a draft consolation prize

FRISCO - Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. When this happens, it's proper to be thankful.

Just ask the Dallas Cowboys, who potentially - accidentally - have wound up with another foundational superstar via an NFL Draft that didn't exactly go as planned.

Then: Emmitt Smith. Now: Micah Parsons.

Thanksgiving, indeed.

Before we flash back ... Parsons is already flexing his leadership muscles as a rookie. He explained on Tuesday that he's contacted his defensive teammates, inviting them over for a late-night Thanksgiving.

He told them, “If you don’t got your family in town or your wife don’t feel like cooking, you’re more than welcome to come to my house. My mom makes enough for about 100 people. Anybody can come. I always enjoy bonding.”

An important (and lucky) connection now.

An important (and lucky) connection then,

In the 1990 draft, coach Jimmy Johnson coveted the size and speed of Baylor linebacker James Francis. When the Bengals nabbed him at No. 12, the Cowboys at No. 17 settled for the NFL's all-time leading rusher.

Last April, as first reported by CowboysSI.com, Jerry Jones' war room at The Star in Frisco had its sights set on improving a historically horrible pass defense by selecting either of the top cornerbacks - South Carolina's Jaycee Horn or Alabama's Patrick Surtain II - and tried to trade up to Miami at No. 6 to seal that deal.

When those two were taken in consecutive picks immediately in front of them, the Cowboys traded down two spots and eventually settled on Parsons at No. 12.

The highest-graded defensive player on Dallas' draft board? Maybe. But also a player it voluntarily risked losing in the trade down with NFC rival Philadelphia? Definitely.

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Mike McCarthy on Elliott and the 10 days Dallas has between games: “I think it’s a huge benefit. I think it’s a huge benefit for our whole football team. … It’s like another bye week, and we treated it that way.”

If the Cowboys knew then what they know now, they would've traded up to grab Parsons.

The Cowboys, by the way, explained all of this to Parsons after they picked him.

“I love what we have here,'' he said, adding that he finds himself motivated to prove Dallas right. "I’m just so honored and blessed to represent the star and have an opportunity to be a star here.”

While Horn and Surtain III have each had one interception in underwhelming rookie seasons, Parsons is already a dominant defensive force and a leading candidate for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. He's having one of the best defensive rookie seasons in the NFL in about 10 years.

Forced to play multiple positions because of injuries to pass-rushers DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory, Parsons leads all rookies with 48 tackles and eight sacks.

With his speed and agility, he also leads in general disruption.

Says teammate Dorance Armstrong, "That kid is already a monster."

The 22-year-old Parsons has covered running backs on pass routes. He's chased down quarterbacks from behind. Last week against the Chiefs, he deftly and athletically slow-played an option by savvy quarterback Patrick Mahomes and turned it into an eight-yard loss. (The Cowboys could have used him in the Robert Griffin III era.)

Parsons' 26-percent pass-rush win rate ranks him behind only the Browns' Myles Garrett. As a regular rusher, Parsons has the potential to be a 15-sack player. As a linebacker, he's proving the Cowboys backed into one of their best draft picks in years.

He's already won NFC Defensive Player of the Week. Not bad for a consolation prize.

Parsons and the limping Cowboys get the national stage Thursday against the Raiders. Is there some "rookie wall'' he's about to hit?

“People always talk about the rookie wall,'' Parsons said. "but I just keep climbing and climbing because I’m excited to see what’s on the other side of that wall.”