Well, the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft is on the books and it ended up being quite an interesting one for the Dallas Cowboys. While the expectations were centered around the top two cornerbacks and the top two offensive tackles, the Cowboys ended up drafting Linebacker Micah Parsons from Penn State with the 12th overall pick.

Cornerbacks Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain II were the “favorites” to end up getting the call from Jerry Jones, but both were off the board just before the Cowboys’ pick. According to Todd Archer from ESPN, the Cowboys actually considered a trade-up to secure their cornerback but decided the price was too high.

Instead, the Cowboys moved back. Heading into the 2021 NFL Draft, the front office was hopeful of getting the chance to trade down from the 10th overall pick if they wanted to. The hope was likely fueled by the likelihood of one of the top quarterbacks being available. As it turns out, Justin Fields and Mac Jones were both on the board at #10.

Yet, the Cowboys traded down with the Philadelphia Eagles, who were attempting to snatch DeVonta Smith out of the New York Giants’ hands. By trading down just two spots, the Cowboys got a third-round pick (#84) in return. With it, Dallas has three picks in the third round and a lot of flexibility to move around in Day 2 of the Draft.

Trading with a division rival is always tricky business, but the Cowboys appear to have walked out from the deal victorious. Not only did they find the same players they were likely to target at #10 to picks later, but they kept Heisman Trophy Winner DeVonta Smith out of the New York Giants.

After all, as the 2021 season approaches, the Giants should be in a better position to compete for the NFC East title than the Eagles, who are entering a transition year under a new head coach and with a talented yet unproven Jalen Hurts.

Penn State LB Micah Parsons (Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports)

The Dallas Cowboys landed Micah Parsons at #12, one of the best defensive players in this year’s draft class. Parsons is an A+ athlete that dominated at linebacker for Penn State in 2019. He has the size to thrive in an NFL defense right out of the gate and the change-of-direction of skills required to be a linebacker on Sundays.

“Overall, Parsons is an impressive size/speed/strength athlete with the reaction to movement and combative mentality to develop into a cornerstone defender and three-down linebacker for an NFL team. He projects as one of the best talents in the draft.” – Dane Brugler

While Parsons has to improve in coverage, his superb athleticism projects to have the ability to continue to improve in this department. He has the bodybuild to compete against NFL tight ends and the speed to keep up with running backs.

What’s most impressive about Parsons is the fact that he played the linebacker position for just one season. Originally a defensive end, Micah still has plenty of upside as he improves as a linebacker.

As a rookie, Micah Parsons will compete for starting snaps with Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith. What role will he fit in specifically remains to be seen, but his skill-set suggests he’ll compete primarily for WILL snaps. Of course, Parsons will impact the Cowboys’ decision on Vander Esch’s fifth-year option in the next few days. 

Although it’s fair to question if there’s “positional value” for a linebacker with the 12th overall pick, the Dallas Cowboys landed the best player available after earning an additional third-round pick. With Surtain and Horn off the board, it felt like a solid first day from the Cowboys’ front office.

Featured Image via Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports