Cowboys' Micah Parsons Wants to Be Best Player in NFL: 'I Want to Be Feared'

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 2, 2022

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - JANUARY 16: Micah Parsons #11 of the Dallas Cowboys defends against the San Francisco 49ers during an NFL wild-card playoff football game at AT&T Stadium on January 16, 2022 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Micah Parsons (Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons has established a clear goal for the 2022 NFL season.

"This year, I know exactly who I need to be. The best player in the league," Parsons told reporters Thursday. "... I'm not talking about the best defensive player. I want to be, like, the greatest. That's the type of mindset I have and the confidence that I have."

The reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year added he understands there's a lot of work to do if he's going to reach that lofty status.

"I want to be the best," Parsons said. "Last year, I was trying to be young, and sometimes it's hard to try to find a place in the league, and you try to find trust and build respect within the guys. But I want to be feared. I don't want to build no one's respect. I have to dominate every day."

Parsons was a force throughout his debut campaign after the Cowboys selected him with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2021 draft. He racked up 84 total tackles, 13 sacks, three forced fumbles and three passes defended across 16 games.

In many ways, the 23-year-old Penn State product, who received a terrific 89.8 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, was reminiscent of a young Khalil Mack.

When Mack broke into the league with the Oakland Raiders in 2014, he was given the freedom to make plays. It wasn't a situation where every down he was asked to attack the passer. He was allowed to utilize his skills as an all-around playmaker to alter games.

Eventually the dynamic linebacker, who's now with the Los Angeles Chargers, developed into one of the NFL's best players, winning NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2016.

Parsons is charting a similar path, and hopefully the Cowboys continue to give him the ability to use his well-rounded skill set rather than pigeonhole him as a three-down edge-rusher.

Make no mistake: The 6'3", 248-pound defender, who also earned Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro selections last season, is still going to accumulate a lot of sacks. But focusing too much on that category will limit his ability to help the defense in other ways.

Parsons noted Thursday that Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has increased his role rather than reduce it, which is a promising sign.

"DQ has set me up," he said. "He has put me in position to be great. But I got to do it. ... I am going to be all over. It’s going to be the same as last year, but even more. The role has definitely expanded. I just got to own it."

Now the challenge is living up to the sky-high expectations.

Parsons ranked No. 12 on ESPN's rating of the top 100 players for 2022 and was voted No. 16 by the players on the NFL Network's annual Top 100 countdown.

Dallas' defensive cornerstone is aiming to climb even higher on those lists next year.