The 2021 NFL Draft had many highly talented offensive players that will make an immediate impact. On the other side of the ball, the draft contained several key defensive players that will also make an immediate impact. The defensive prospects aren’t as valued as the quarterbacks, elite receivers, and top tackles but some players will just as much production.
There wasn’t a defensive player selected until the eighth overall pick. There were 14 defensive players selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft with the five players picked in the first round. Most, if not all, the defensive players selected in the first round will be starting on day one for their teams.
While these defensive players in the first through third will make an immediate impact, three players will have a ton of attention for impact and production. Here are three early candidates for the 2021 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
3. Micah Parsons, LB, Cowboys
After missing out on the top two cornerbacks in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys needed to evaluate their first dire position of need.
With the Cowboys having one of the worst scoring defenses in the league this past season (29.6 points allowed per game), they will need more solid defenders. More specifically, they needed help in the second level of their defense at the middle linebacker.
After trading back two spots with the Philadelphia Eagles, the Cowboys made the best pick available for Penn State middle linebacker Micah Parsons with the 12th overall pick.
Parsons is a player that can address the Cowboys’ defense in all major defensive needs. He is a solid run-stopper, able to provide coverage from man or zone, and can get to the quarterback in the backfield. While the Cowboys were one of the worst teams in the league in defending the deep passing game, they needed serious help in defending against the run.
Dallas’ defense ranked 31st in the league in rushing yards allowed per game (158.8). They also allowed 142 first downs through the running game.
Adding a solid piece to the middle of the defense will stall the opposing offenses and not Dallas to be so vulnerable in the simple factors of the game. Parsons will be one of the first impact players under the schemes of the Cowboys’ new defensive coordinator in Dan Quinn.
Parsons’ immediate impact on the Cowboys’ defense will be significantly tremendous in his first year in the league. He will also receive a significant amount of attention for being the new leader and playmaker on defense. This alone makes him a valuable candidate for defensive rookie of the year.