DALLAS — The offseason is where players put in the work to prepare for the grueling NFL schedule. As organized team activities and minicamps are about to kick off around the league this month, it’s a first chance to look at any possible changes.
For the Dallas Cowboys, perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate Micah Parsons is already displaying those adjustments with both his physique, and with a likely position switch.
At the team’s annual Reliant Home Run Derby on Wednesday, it was revealed that Parsons might be making defensive end his permanent home in the future. The third-year player has been working out away from the team so far this offseason, bulking up for the move.
The decision to make Parsons a defensive end makes sense given his production and ability to rush the quarterback. If the Cowboys want to maximize the player they have, it’s clear that Parsons’ greatest impact comes at defensive end.
Parsons came into the NFL as a linebacker, but the team quickly found out that he was an elite pass rusher and used him along the defensive line as a rookie. Last season, the Cowboys lined Parsons up almost exclusively at defensive end, which is the position where he earned a First-Team All-Pro selection.
As good as Parsons was last season, finishing with 13.5 sacks and leading the NFL in quarterback pressure rate at 18.8%, he did wear down at the end of the year. Playing defensive end at his size took its toll and gaining some muscle to prepare for battling 300-pound offensive linemen every snap for another campaign is necessary.
Speaking to reporters at the team event, Parsons said won’t be putting on too much weight, mentioning he’s only up six pounds from last year. The third-year defensive star also noted that he wanted to improve all aspects of his game that can come from adding muscle the right way.
“I just want to increase my explosiveness,” said Parsons. “[I want to] add on weight the right way, sharpen it up, eating right and just do anything possible that I can do the right way to be the best player I can be.”
There’s not much downside to Parsons taking on the weight, he’ll need it while playing on the defensive line for 17 games. The 2021 No. 12 overall pick has the frame to add some muscle without sacrificing other elements of his game.
The strength and mass added could take his game to the next level, when considering some of the most consistent pass rushing DEs in the league play at over 255 pounds. The Bosa brothers in San Francisco and Los Angeles, Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby, and Philadelphia Eagles ends Brandon Graham and Josh Sweat all weigh more than Parsons did last season.
Moving Parsons to defensive end also could explain why the Cowboys drafted Texas linebacker DeMarvion Overshown in the third round. The team needed help at linebacker regardless, but without Parsons in his usual role, there could have been a gaping hole on the roster.
It should be noted that Parsons isn’t currently with the team, but he confirmed that he’ll be back with the Cowboys when OTAs start on May 22.
The news shouldn’t come as a surprise. Without officially listing him as a defensive lineman last year, Parsons was already virtually playing as a full-time defensive end. Dallas didn’t have enough pass rushers, so they used their best option and now they’re just giving their best defender the greenlight to get better prepared for the season ahead.
This should be a frightening prospect for opposing quarterbacks, the best of Micah Parsons could be entering their backfields soon.
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