FRISCO, Texas – When you draft a player No. 12 overall, not only is he expected to play right away, but usually finds himself in the middle of the action.
Literally for Micah Parsons, that’s where he will be when he lines up Friday for the start of minicamp.
On Thursday, the Penn State linebacker showed up with the rookie class for preparation of a busy weekend that includes practices and walk-throughs. While defensive coordinator Dan Quinn was rather vague when asked where the first-round draft pick would be play, Parsons now seems to have a better idea.
“Right now I’m at MIKE linebacker,” said Parsons, referring to what is often called the ‘middle linebacker.’ “Looking at the playbook, this is a position for me to go sideline to sideline and make a lot of plays and really stop that run.”
But it’s still early in the process. This weekend’s practices will include just 31 players so because Parsons is playing the middle right now, he obviously could find himself in other positions down the line.
We’ve yet to see this defense under Quinn on the field for any practices just yet. So it might be somewhat premature to figure out where everyone is playing at linebacker, including Leighton Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith, Keanu Neal and fourth-round rookie Jabril Cox.
Currently, it has been expected that Vander Esch will resume as the middle linebacker. While he’s dealt with his share of injuries, Vander Esch has been one of the most productive players on the defense, even making a Pro Bowl during his rookie year in 2018.
The Cowboys recently decided not to pick up LVE’s fifth-year option for 2022 that would pay him a guaranteed $9 million next year. However, Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones said the team is still looking at signing Vander Esch to a long-term contract.
But for this weekend, Parsons will be the man in the middle and even without the pads on, he knows he can be impressive to his new coaches.
“Just how good I’m moving. Show them that I’m grasping the playbook really fast,” Parsons said. “Not trying to make the same mistakes twice. Keep learning and growing. That’s the only thing I can do right now, get better every day and leave the rest to itself.