ARLINGTON, TX- Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons won the Defensive Rookie of the Year award last night at the NFL Honors award ceremony.
Back in April 2021, the Dallas Cowboys held the 10th overall pick. Cornerback was the favorite pick for the Cowboys has it’s been over the past few years and one of either Jaycee Horn or Patrick Surtain were projected to be the Cowboy’s pick.
Both Horn and Surtain went consecutively in the 8th and 9th overall spots leaving the corner position bare for the Cowboys.
The next favorite pick for the Cowboys among fans was Rashawn Slater, an offensive lineman but the Philadelphia Eagles called and swapped the 12th pick for the 10th and took Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith.
Dallas went on the clock and picked Micah Parsons a linebacker out of Penn State who opted to sit out the 2020 season due to the COVID pandemic. The Cowboys had just picked Leighton Vander Esch in 2018 and Jaylon Smith in 2016. But Parsons added something to the defense that it’s been lacking for a while.
New defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who won NFL Assistant of the Year for pulling a 180 with the Dallas defense, put Parsons in the best position to make an impact.
That impact resulted in 61 solo tackes, 13 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles. While the tackles don’t look impressive, Parsons did more than just play off the ball linebacker. At one point, Parsons was compared to New York Giant's linebacker Lawrence Taylor, one of the best to ever play the position.He was a jack of all trades, master of all as well. He put pressure on opposing quarterbacks, resulting in 13 sacks and 27 quarterback hits. The rookie sack record is 14.5 set by Javon Kearse.
Also, through week 14, Parsons only rushed the quarterback 228 times and dropped into coverage 206 times. He pressured the quarterback on 55 of those 228 snaps for a rate of 21.6%. Only one other player at the time had a higher win rate.
Parson was a dominate force for the Cowboys this season and according to Parsons himself, was playing all season on a hyperextended knee.
As for Dan Quinn, he deserves the credit for turning the defensive side of the ball into one of the better units in football last year. One big change for Dallas was turnovers. The Cowboys ranked 1st in turnovers and in interceptions in 2021. Corner Trevon Diggs had 11 himself last season. In one season the Cowboys defense went from the 28th ranked defense in 2020-2021 to the 7th ranked defense and was first in several other categories as well.
Even in sacks the Cowboys improved from 20th to 11th.
While Parsons was never in any doubt, Dan Quinn had a few head coaching opportunities but chose to come back to the Cowboys next season.