When we look at the hypothetical question of which player would be the best one to take off the Dallas Cowboys’ roster and put into the New York Giants’ lineup, we really find a similar situation to the one we were in last week.
When we looked at the New Orleans Saints, the answer to the question was clearly right tackle Ryan Ramczyk. That, of course, led us to a debate about the 2017 NFL Draft, where the Giants chose tight end Evan Engram in Round 1 and left Ramczyk on the board.
There are a number of excellent players on the Dallas roster. In my view, though, there is only one right answer to the question of which Cowboys player would be the best one to add to the Giants’ lineup.
The answer? Micah Parsons.
Which lands us back in the middle of a draft debate.
The Cowboys selected Parsons, who many thought was the best defensive player in the 2021 draft class, with the 12th overall pick. The Giants had the 11th overall pick. Clearly, they could have taken Parsons.
Clearly, from what head coach Joe Judge said on Wednesday, the Giants recognized the kind of NFL player Parsons could be. Clearly, they strongly considered Parsons among their Round 1 options.
“Our decisions for our team were big-picture (and) what we thought was best for our team. Him as a player, he’s an elite player. This guy is explosive,” Judge said. “I think the one thing that I picked up on him when I went to the pro day at Penn State and you stand next to him, he’s a big man.
“That’s the one thing I told the team today is this guy on tape sometimes doesn’t look as big as he is. He’s a big guy, he’s strong and he’s explosive. You watch this guy play, he’s very athletic, he has really, really good instincts. Obviously, they use him on the edge in the pass rush, he’s got the green dot, he’s playing in the stack right now, makes plays in both spots.”
Parsons thought during the draft process that he wouldn’t get past the Giants.
“All pre-draft they seemed pretty interested,” Parsons told Dallas media this week. “Called me pre-draft, said I hope you fall to us.
“They made their decision, Giants made their decision, I think Dallas made the best decision and I’m going to just show them why they keep making the best decisions.”
The Giants have struggled to rush the passer in their first four games. Per Pro Football-Reference, the Giants are 20th in sacks with 6, 29th in pressure percentage (19.4), 30th in quarterback knockdown percentage (5.6), and 14th in hurry percentage (10.3). ESPN has the Giants as 31st in pass rush win rate.
Parsons is also PFF’s top-rated edge defender from the 2021 draft class, with the Giants Azeez Ojulari No. 2.
Parsons could have helped with that. He has three sacks, 17 pressures and his 11.6 Pro Football Focus pass rush productivity rate is fourth in the NFL. Ahead of Parsons are Myles Garrett, Joey Bosa and Harold Landry. He would look really nice right now in the middle, or on the edge, of a defense that will be without Blake Martinez for the rest of the season.
The Giants knew what they were potentially passing on.
“This is a guy that coming out looking at his college tape, he actually had a lot of production on the edge that we looked at and talked collectively about (how) this guy really gives you dual value – stack backer to edge backer, he can cover, he can blitz, he can do a lot of things,” Judge said. “I think this guy is going to be one of the elite players in the league for a long time. Our decision had nothing to do with his impact as a player, we just make the best decision for the team.”
The decision the Giants made, of course, was to trade down from No. 11 to No. 20. They also received a 2021 fifth-round pick, a 2022 first-round pick and a 2022 fourth-round pick from the Chicago Bears.
The first-round pick was used on Kadarius Toney. The fifth-round pick was packaged to move up in Round 3 and select cornerback Aaron Robinson, who has yet to play due to a core muscle injury.
The combination of Toney, Robinson and whatever they acquire with the two added picks next season likely makes the Giants right in the long run for passing on the opportunity to draft either Parsons or offensive lineman Rashawn Slater at No. 11.
Still, there is no denying that a player with Parsons’ skill set would look really nice in a Giants’ uniform right now.