Former Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons has high expectations as he prepares to join the Dallas Cowboys' linebacking corps alongside Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch after being selected with the 12th overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft Thursday night.
"If all three of us can find a way to play together and stay healthy, it will be something scary," Parsons told reporters.
Parsons was terrific across two seasons with the Nittany Lions before opting out of the 2020 campaign amid the coronavirus pandemic. He recorded 191 total tackles, 6.5 sacks, six forced fumbles and five passes defended across 26 appearances.
He's the most complete linebacker in the draft class, and the Cowboys were able to add him despite trading down two spots as part of a swap with the NFC East rival Philadelphia Eagles, who moved up to No. 10 to select Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith.
Parsons should jump right into the starting lineup, and he's hopeful getting to face off with the Cowboys' star-studded offense in practice will help his NFL transition.
"I knew I'd be going against the best offense in America all season, and that was going to make me better," Parsons said.
He also represents another box checked off the Cowboys' offseason to-do list, which included adding a wide-ranging defensive playmaker after the team ranked 23rd in total defense last season.
"I'm excited to have that rare player with a rare attitude," team owner Jerry Jones said. "He can do a lot of damage or impact to the identity of this defense. He has that type of talent and rare skills."
Parsons has all the tools to become the singular leader of the Dallas defense and an annual Pro Bowl selection, but for now he'll focus on trying to make an instant impact while sharing the key assignments at the linebacker level with Smith and Vander Esch.
If his arrival along with the other offseason changes can get the defense back to an even average level, the team's high-powered offense should be able to take care of the rest.