It is rare that a rookie gets named an All-Pro by the Associated Press. It is perhaps even more rare to do so as a rookie. But that is exactly what former Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons has done. The favorite to be named the NFL's defensive rookie of the year for the 2021 season, Parsons was named to the 2021 NFL All-Pro team by the Associated Press on Friday.
Parsons, coming off his first regular season with the Dallas Cowboys and preparing for his NFL postseason debut this weekend against the San Francisco 49ers, received more votes from the AP All-Pro voters than any other linebacker in the entire NFL, easily making him the top choice for All-Pro. Parsons appeared on 46 of the 50 ballots, edging Darius Leonard of the Indianapolis Colts for the top spot at linebacker. It didn't take long for Parsons to grow up in the NFL. After a shaky debut at times in the season opener, Parsons quickly asserted himself as one of the top defensive players in the NFL.
Parsons is one of 14 players to be named an AP All-Pro for the first time this season. Parsons is the only rookie on the entire 2021 AP All-Pro team. And considering the overwhelming total of votes Parsons received to be named All-Pro, there is a strong chance Parsons could add the title of Defensive Player of the Year to his list of accolades, and not just the rookie award.
"I think it's an extraordinary honor," Parsons said to the AP. "It speaks to the work and the position the Cowboys put me in. I think it's just a true blessing. It just makes you want to go harder."
"I think when you achieve things early, you've got to learn how to sustain it. People always say when you get there it gets easier," Parsons said. "But I think when you get there, it gets harder. Once you get it, you've got it. But it's hard to sustain it than it is just to get there. I've got to just keep working and keep getting better and find a way to beat this season next year, which is the harder part."
As noted by Pro Football Focus, Parsons is joining some true elite company. Parsons is the fourth linebacker to be named an AP All-Pro in his rookie season. He joins Lawrence Taylor, Patrick Willis, and Darius Leonard.
PFF also listed Parsons as an All-Pro for the 2021 season, although PFF listed Parsons as a Flex-D All-Pro, giving the nod at linebacker to Leonard and De'Vonfdre Campbell of Green Bay. PFF also named Parsons its NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Parsons played in 16 of 17 games for the Cowboys, who won the NFC East, this season. He recorded 13 sacks and 64 solo tackles with three forced fumbles. And to think he's just getting started.