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Cowboys select Penn State LB Micah Parsons at No. 12

The Dallas Cowboys spent part of draft week saying farewell to Sean Lee. They found his replacement Thursday night.

Dallas selected Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons with the 12th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Parsons didn't play in the 2020 college football season due to a COVID-19 opt-out, but that did not dissuade the linebacker-needy Cowboys from spending their first pick on the best at his position in this class.

Dallas picked up a third-round pick before it chose Parsons, trading back with the rival Eagles from 10 to 12, where the Cowboys decided to bolster a defense that was a sieve in 2020. Parsons was a first-team All-American at Penn State in 2019 and earned Big Ten Linebacker of the Year, becoming the first sophomore to ever win the award.

He's a balanced linebacker in that he's effective against the run and pass and in getting after the passer. NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah called Parsons' pro day "one of the best" he'd ever seen -- and that was after a year off from football.

Parsons will fit into Dallas' defense as an immediate starter and join existing linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith, adding talent to a group that desperately needs it. A year after moving away from need to take a top talent available, Dallas gets both with its choice of Parsons.

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