Cowboys’ Dan Quinn clarifies Micah Parsons’ comments about making 2022 position change unofficial

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By Webdesk

The unofficial one seemed to have gone official with the Dallas Cowboys: Two-time first-team All-Pro Micah Parsons said on May 3 that he’s transitioning from linebacker to defensive end, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The 6-foot-3, 245-pound Parsons explained that adding “mass and weight” was part of his off-season training regimen while training in Austin, Texas.

The plan is for him to return to the Cowboys during organized team practices, which begin May 22. .

While Parsons may be making the whole world aware of his position change ahead of the 2023 season, the 31 other NFL teams likely knew his move to defensive end happened way back in 2022. He really was a linebacker in his rookie year in 2021, in which he won NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, at a traditional linebacker location for the snap 55.2% of the time, according to Pro Football Focus. The pendulum from his pre-snap location swung hard the other way in 2022, when he was along the defensive line a whopping 81.1% of the time.

However, Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn cautioned that Parsons isn’t really making a full-time position change, even though he apparently did so last season. “He’s a pass-rushing linebacker,” Quinn said of Parsons on Saturday, according to The Athletic. “If you ever need position changes, come to me. What I think he was probably trying to say is, ‘I’m really emphasizing a pass rush in my off-season.'”

Micah Parsons career defensive quick alignment

Defense line






Defensive back



*Data according to Pro Football Focus

The move made Parsons a better player at one of the most valuable skills in the entire NFL: being able to get behind the quarterback. He led the NFL in quarterback pressures (90) last season with 2022 Defensive Player of the Year and San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa, while his 13.5 sacks last season ranked seventh in the NFL, five behind Bosa’s league – leads 18.5. Even as he lined up mostly as a linebacker as a rookie, Parsons still wreaked havoc in the opposing backfields, totaling just half a sack less in 2021 (13.0). However, his quarterback press total improved significantly from Year 1, when his 67 press ranked ninth in the NFL.

The positional switch probably explains Parsons jumping for joy when the Cowboys selected Michigan defensive tackle Mazi Smith with their first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, as the All-Pro saw a player who can draw more attention from inland offensive linemen. That would free him up to go one-on-one with opposing tackles more often, a battle Parsons wins more often than not.

“You have to give him attention,” Parsons said of Smith, per ESPN. “He’s going to push guys back. He’s powerful. He’s strong. He’s going to get under people’s pillows, and he’s great in flight and we’re going to develop him in stride.”

The thinking in Dallas is likely that the more power Parsons adds as his quick alignment tilts even more toward the defensive line, the more his quarterback pressure and sack count will continue to rise.

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