2021 NFL Draft – Dallas Cowboys Draft Grades: The good, the bad, the ugly

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
5 of 5
dallas cowboys
(Photo by Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images) /

Grading the Dallas Cowboys first pick

The Dallas Cowboys may have rated Micah Parsons as the top defender but they wanted one of the two cornerbacks. When both exited the board in front of them, Dallas pivoted, trading back and going for Plan B.

Pick 12: Micah Parsons, LB

The Micah Parsons pick sent shockwaves through Cowboys Nation. While some old school minded folks loved the pick, the modern day scouts with analytic skills fell back in their chairs. Parsons himself has some questions about him bulk the bulk of the hate is aimed at the position he plays: linebacker.

Regarded as one of the least valuable and most replaceable positions on the field, the football intellectuals advise you avoid the LB position early in the draft process. Suitable players are found deep in the draft, and much like the running back position, using a top-50 pick on a low value position is a misallocation of resources.

Related Story. LBs aren't special or irreplaceable. The Cowboys should draft accordingly. light

With Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch possibly on their way out in the next year, the Dallas Cowboys clearly have a need at LB. But to use a first round pick on a position that can easily be filled on Day 2 or even Day 3 is almost unforgivable.

You don’t draft a LB in the first for the same reason you don’t draft a kicker. Even generational ones are a misallocation of resources and come with major opportunity costs

The salvation in this is Micah Parsons could be used more as an edge player than a traditional off ball linebacker. PFF stated he’d be EDGE1 if he called himself a pass-rusher. Unlike off ball LB, a pass-rushing edge is a very valuable position – both in wins above replacement (WAR) and on the pay scale.

In the post draft presser, the Dallas Cowboys brass spoke of this, mentioning SAM and designated pass rusher as places where he’ll be utilized. While that’s exciting to hear, but we’ve heard it before and rarely seen anything close to what was described. Dan Quinn’s defenses are typically at the bottom of the league in blitz rate so seeing Parsons as pass-rusher will require snaps at DE (LEO wide).

At the end of the day, it’s going to come down to how many snaps he plays as a pass-rusher and how many he plays as an off ball linebacker. If he’s primarily a pass-rusher, his grades are going to jump, but right now he’s officially a linebacker and that’s not a smart position to invest in early.

Micah Parsons, the player, is an elite prospect. He’s bigger, stronger, and faster than just about anyone we’ve seen. PFF noted he was “the best LB prospect we’ve scouted in seven years.” But the position he plays is of low value. And Dallas has a track record of misevaluating the position leading many to worry about the bust potential.

All this and we didn’t even get into Parson’s coverage concerns, maturity questions, year away from the game, or locker room allegations. He has the potential to be an A+ player pretty early in his career, but as of today, this is a boom/bust player at a low value position.

Initial Grade: C

The Parsons Hive is not going to be happy but the grade actually would have been a D if it wasn’t for all the pass-rusher talk. Parsons is a great prospect but the positional value is atrocious. You don’t draft a LB in the first for the same reason you don’t draft a kicker. Even generational ones are a misallocation of resources and come with major opportunity costs

Dallas Cowboys Final Draft Grade

Round 3 was crippling for the Dallas Cowboys. They completely botched valuations every step of the way. In all, even a great Day 3 couldn’t save the Cowboys from an average draft grade

Final Grade: C+

If last year was an A based on value, needs, potential, and analytics, this year is suffers for all the same reasons. All of these players have the ability to change the grade, but in this snapshot in time, this did not go well.

Must Read. Cowboys are about to get active in free agency. light

Next. Cowboys: We may be underestimating Blake Jarwin's impact in 2021. dark

Yeah, yeah, no draft can be graded before the players take the field – we all recognize that. But based on the information today we can offer initial grades. What are yours?