3 Reasons Cowboys' Micah Parsons Deserves DPOY as a Rookie

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistDecember 15, 2021

3 Reasons Cowboys' Micah Parsons Deserves DPOY as a Rookie

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    Terrance Williams/Associated Press

    There's no reason to debate who the 2021 Defensive Rookie of the Year is. Micah Parsons already has that on lock. 

    The real debate to be had is whether he's deserving of the Defensive Player of the Year. 

    After another stellar performance against the Washington Football Team in which he notched two sacks, three tackles, two quarterback hits and a forced fumble that was returned for a touchdown, it's safe to say he belongs in the conversation. 

    There are a lot of deserving candidates. Myles Garrett is having a phenomenal season for the Cleveland Browns. T.J. Watt has been dominant when healthy. Even fellow Cowboy Trevon Diggs has garnered attention for his high interception total. 

    Yet, Parsons' case continues to grow to become only the second rookie to win the award. Lawrence Taylor is the only first-year player to pull that off. 

    Here's why Parsons should be No. 2. 

The NFL's Most Efficient Pass-Rusher

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    Terrance Williams/Associated Press

    Even without context, Micah Parsons' pass-rushing production is impressive. He has 12 sacks and 53 total pressures. Most teams would be happy to get that out of their every-down primary pass-rusher. 

    The context makes that production even more eye-popping. Per Stats Info Solutions, Parsons has only been a rusher on 52 percent of the pass snaps he played. The result is the most efficient pass-rusher in football. 

    Parsons has generated pressure on 23.9 percent of his pass-rushing snaps. That's the best in the league among players with at least 150 rushes. 

    For comparison, fellow DPOY candidates T.J Watt and Myles Garrett register a pressure percentage of 17.9 and 19.4, respectively. 

    The rookie doesn't get as many opportunities to get after the quarterback, but when the Cowboys cut him loose he is getting results at an alarming rate. 

Unparalleled Versatility

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    Positionless football has become more mainstream in the NFL, but Parsons is taking it to a new level.

    Parsons' ability to play just about anywhere on the defense gives defensive coordinator Dan Quinn a lot of flexibility. It's something that he has taken advantage of.  

    According to PFF, Parsons has done just about everything for the Cowboys. He has 321 snaps on the defensive line, 396 snaps in the box and even 20 combined snaps as a slot or wide cornerback. 

    The pass-rushing productivity is what gets the most attention, but he's been solid in coverage too. He's allowing just five yards per target and a passer rating of 74.0 when targeted. 

    There are linebackers with better stats than him. There are pass-rushers with better stats than him. There is nobody who is being asked to do more and doing it as well as the rookie. That has to be a consideration for the award. 

Improved Cowboys Defense

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    Defensive Player of the Year is an individual award, but it stands to reason that the defensive player of the year should play on a good defense. After all, if their contributions don't make the unit better, they probably aren't the best player in the league. 

    If you want evidence of just how impactful Parsons has been, all one has to do is look at the unit in 2020 compared to 2021. 

    In 2020, the Cowboys were 23rd in defensive efficiency, 26th in third-down conversion percentage and 28th in scoring defense. This season, they are 10th in defensive efficiency, first in third-down conversion percentage and 12th in scoring defense. 

    That's a drastic one-season improvement. Of course, there are multiple factors at play there. They brought on Dan Quinn to replace Mike Nolan at defensive coordinator. Trevon Diggs has taken a step forward in his development, and there are multiple free-agent acquisitions who have chipped in. 

    But getting a transcendent talent the level of Parsons has played a major role. It's easy to see the impact that he's had as a play-making defender who can be deployed in multiple roles. 

    It's time to start talking about him with the other truly elite defenders in the game.