It was the Giants’ turn to draft. Micah Parsons was the best player available, and visions of two Penn State alums sharing the New York spotlight began to crystalize.
Then the Giants traded down from the No. 11 pick — an unprecedented move by general manager Dave Gettleman — and let Parsons slip to the rival Cowboys rather than pairing him with running back Saquon Barkley.
“All pre-draft they seemed pretty interested,” Parsons told reporters Wednesday as he prepared for his first game in the rivalry. “Saquon, my buddy, met with him a lot, talked with him a lot. [The Giants] … told me pre-draft, ‘I hope you fall to us.’ ”
In reality, the Giants hoped to land one of the top two cornerbacks or top three receivers, all of whom went off the board between picks No. 5-10. The Giants were concerned by some of the red flags surrounding Parson’s character dating to high school and quietly wished he was a top-10 pick to make their decision easier, as league sources told The Post at the time.
When the Eagles and Cowboys traded spots so Philadelphia could steal DeVonta Smith at No. 10, the Giants traded back to No. 20, picked up an extra first-round pick in 2022 from the Bears and pivoted to Kadarius Toney. The Cowboys secured Parsons at No. 12.
“Our decision had nothing to do with his impact as a player,” coach Joe Judge said. “We just make the best decision for the team.”
Parsons won’t spend too much time on the what-if. Giants defensive line coach Sean Spencer coached Parsons at Penn State and the two remain close.
“It’s business,” Parsons said. “It is what it is. Everyone’s got their personal choices, but it ain’t no motive or motivation. I just know every time I’m going to go out there, I’m going to ball. They made their decision, Dallas made their decision. I think Dallas made the best decision, and I’m just going to show them why they keep making the best decisions.”
Parsons has 17 tackles, 2.5 sacks and two passes defended, and his versatility to blitz or cover as an inside linebacker, outside linebacker or defensive end has been a major boost for the Cowboys.
“The one thing I told the team today is this guy on tape sometimes doesn’t look as big as he is,” said Judge, who scouted Penn State’s Pro Day in person. “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.”
Parsons wears the transmitter helmet as the defensive signal-caller — a sign that he has been a quick study as a rookie. Judge praised Parsons’ instincts as well as physical gifts.
“I think this guy is going to be one of the elite players in the league,” Judge said, “for a long time.”