Gil Brandt: Cowboys LB Micah Parsons among rookies in best position to succeed

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Gil Brandt knows a thing or two thousand about evaluating football players. He was instrumental in finding and scouting countless players over his tenure of nearly three decades as the Cowboys’ vice president of player personnel. From pioneering the process of grading collegiate football stars to scouring other sports for athletes who could transition to the gridiron, from seeking out small-school prospects to helping create the NFL combine, few men have demonstrated as keen an eye for identifying football talent.

So when Brandt singles out a Cowboys draft pick as one of the league’s rookies in the most favorable situations for immediate success, it’s worth noting. And Brandt says linebacker Micah Parsons has just such a stage set for him in Dallas.

Of the 259 players selected in this year’s draft, the numerous undrafted free agents, and the other invited players looking to make up the league’s rookie class of 2021, Brandt selected just eight that he thinks have the best chance- based on their team’s situation- to make a splash right away.

“It can be easy to forget,” Brandt points out in his NFL.com column, “that team fit and other surrounding circumstances can have as much to do with rookie success as anything.”

It’s those surrounding circumstances- particularly the Cowboys’ poor defensive showing last season- that gives the Penn State product a leg up on making his impact felt right from the jump in Dallas.

Of Parsons, Brandt says:

“For a variety of reasons, linebacker play slipped considerably in Dallas last season, and the Cowboys hope installing the 12th overall pick in new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn’s system will reverse that downward trend. Parsons’ skill set will enable him to both play a traditional linebacker role and help DeMarcus Lawrence rush the passer off the edge. The team apparently feels bullish enough about Parsons that one-time Pro Bowler Leighton Vander Esch — who has been slowed recently by injuries — had his fifth-year option declined in the days following the draft.”

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By all accounts, Parsons got off to a strong start during the weekend’s minicamp, seeing time at the middle linebacker spot. The rookie will turn just 22 years old next week.

But the legendary 89-year-old scout is already impressed by what he sees.

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