FRISCO, Texas — The 2021 NFL Draft was going great for the Dallas Cowboys... until it didn't.
With quarterbacks going 1-2-3 on Thursday night in Cleveland, the Cowboys appeared primed to have multiple options with the 10th pick -- such as the top two cornerbacks: Alabama's Patrick Surtain II and South Carolina's Jaycee Horn.
But, the Carolina Panthers drafted Horn at #8.
And the Denver Broncos selected Surtain II at #9.
So, the Cowboys did something you rarely see on Day 1 of the NFL Draft -- they traded their pick to an in-division rival.
Dallas sent the 10th pick to Philadelphia, in exchange for the 12th pick and a 2021 3rd-Round pick.
With pick #10, the Eagles selected Alabama wide receiver and Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith.
Then at #12, the Cowboys drafted Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons.
Parsons was the first linebacker selected in this year's draft.
Call it fate or coincidence, but the Cowboys draft a Penn State linebacker in Parsons -- just days after former Penn State linebacker Sean Lee retired after an 11-year career with the Cowboys.
Owner Jerry Jones always loves a good storyline.
At 6'3" 246-pounds, Parsons is an athletic marvel.
“Obviously, physically, he’s a freak," Jerry Jones remarked on Thursday night.
Parsons ran a 4.39 40-yard dash and his vertical leap was 34".
He has that sideline-to-sideline speed you look for in a linebacker, but especially in today's pass-heavy screen-heavy NFL.
"We were sitting there at 10, and obviously we didn't want to go too far back, because we did really like Micah, and we didn't want to get in a position where we didn't think we could get him," said Cowboys VP Stephen Jones.
While Parsons may have not been the Cowboys top choice -- though the team may claim he was as to not hurt his feelings -- he bolsters a position that lacked depth.
However, the Parsons pick raises more questions than answers.
What does this mean for Jaylon Smith -- who regressed in 2020 and carries a hefty price tag?
What does this mean for Leighton Vander Esch -- who has had multiple injuries and a fifth-year option for 2022?
Parsons -- essentially -- is a safety net, if LVE or Smith do not stay healthy or dramatically improve.
In run-stopping packages, all three linebackers will likely be on the field, but it'll be interesting to see who new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn turns to in nickel packages, which traditionally only have two linebackers on the field.
And in today's pass-happy NFL, the "Nickel" has become the new base defense for most teams, if not all.
Parsons will have to prove himself in 2021, but so will Vander Esch and Smith.
Competition is good. We'll see if the cream rises to the top.