Cowboys’ Parsons, Odighizuwa make Gil Brandt’s all-rookie team

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Gil Brandt is a well-respected figure in the NFL and especially with the Dallas Cowboys organization. Currently an NFL.com senior analyst, Brandt was the vice-president of player personnel for the Cowboys from 1960 to 1988.

As the 2021 season draws to a close, Brandt put together his defensive all-rookie team. Notable names such as cornerback Patrick Surtain of the Denver Broncos, linebacker Nick Bolton of the Kansas City Chiefs, and linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah of the Cleveland Browns made the list. Also, two players who have been at the forefront of a revamped Cowboys’ defense were selected.

Micah Parsons

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

“The No. 12 overall pick isn’t just having one of the best rookie defensive seasons in recent memory; it would also count as an all-time campaign for any player of any experience level. In fact, only seven other players in NFL history have accumulated 13-plus sacks, 75-plus tackles, three-plus passes defensed and three-plus forced fumbles in the same season, like Parsons has, per Pro Football Reference. Talent-wise, he compares to legendary defensive force Lawrence Taylor. In other words, Parsons is really special. His Pro Bowl berth is likely to be just the first honor at the beginning of what could become a Hall of Fame career down the road.”

Parsons was mainly looked at as just an off-the-ball linebacker once he was drafted. Shortly after, however, Parsons showed that he was as versatile of a defender as there is in the NFL. He’s taken snaps at linebacker, defensive end, cornerback, and even safety this season.

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This honor caps off quite the month for the rookie. Parsons was recently selected to the Pro Bowl and named defensive rookie of the month for the second consecutive time. He’s the runaway favorite to win Defensive Rookie of the Year and one of the leading candidates for Defensive Player of the Year. Sprinkle in the fact that he has a great shot at breaking the rookie sack record, the 2021 season has been amazing for Parsons.

Osa Odighizuwa

(AP Photo/Brett Duke)

“Injuries to Trysten Hill and Neville Gallimore paved Odighizuwa’s path to a starting job that he’s kept all year. He ranks just behind (Christian) Barmore among rookie DTs in QB pressures (26), stops (21) and tackles (31), per NGS.”

Logging 12 starts in the 14 games he’s played in (missing Week 15 due to COVID), Odighizuwa has used his background as a wrestler to get great leverage when he’s engaged with offensive linemen and coupled that with his strength to cause havoc in the backfield whether it’s against the run or pass. He’s registered 31 tackles (six tackles for loss), two sacks, and 11 quarterback hits this season.

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When Odighizuwa was selected with the No. 75 pick in the third round it wasn’t received with glowing praise off the bat. However, in the NFL all that matters is how you perform when you get your opportunity and Odighizuwa has exceeded any expectations that were placed on him.

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