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Cowboys' Micah Parsons a 'One-Percenter,' 'Best Singular' LB Talent, AFC Scout Says

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJuly 7, 2022

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Micah Parsons' dynamic debut season earned the Dallas Cowboys linebacker high praise from NFL front-office personnel ahead of the 2022 campaign.

Parsons checked in at No. 2 on a list of the league's best off-ball linebackers behind only the Indianapolis Colts' Darius Leonard in a survey by ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.

"Regardless, he's the best playmaker on this list," an unnamed AFC executive said. "Incredible talent. The speed is so good that they are smart to use him all over."

An AFC scout added: "He's a one-percenter."

Parsons recorded 84 total tackles, 13 sacks, three forced fumbles and three passes defended across 16 games for the Cowboys last season. He won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award, was voted a first-team All-Pro and earned a Pro Bowl selection.

The 23-year-old Penn State product also received a terrific 89.8 overall grade from Pro Football Focus while quickly establishing himself as one of the league's top defensive playmakers.

His talent is undeniable, but the question is how Dallas will use him moving forward after a rookie season where he did a little bit of everything.

"I don't see Micah as an off-the-ball LB at all," an NFL coordinator told Fowler. "He's really a 3-4 OLB that [Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn] is scheming into situational opportunities."

An NFC executive believes Dallas should make Parsons a full-time edge-rusher: "If Dallas does anything but let him rush, they are crazy."

The Oakland Raiders faced similar questions early in the career of linebacker Khalil Mack, who's now a member of the Los Angeles Chargers.

While there's always a desire to focus on rushing the passer in modern football, Mack was at his best when allowed to play a multifaceted role. It's something that became apparent during his college career at the University at Buffalo and carried over to the NFL.

Like with Mack, there may come a day when it's best for Parsons to serve as a three-down edge-rusher, but limiting him to that singular role while he's still at the peak of his athletic powers and capable of impacting the game in a variety of ways would be a mistake.

Let him wreak havoc on opposing offenses in every way possible. Not knowing what he's going to do on any given play makes him a lot tougher to protect against than if he's simply lining up and trying to attack the quarterback 100 percent of the time.

For his part, the Cowboys linebacker isn't resting on his success from 2021, per ESPN's Todd Archer.

"Micah just has to put his head down and just work; forget last year," Parsons said about himself. "I'm just really focused on this year and what I'm going to do. I'm not going to think about what I did before. I'm just thinking about how I can be dominant this year."

Dallas opens the regular season Sept. 11 when it hosts Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a marquee NFC showdown.

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