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NFL Draft

Micah Parsons Reminded Draft World Of His High Ceiling

  • The Draft Network
  • March 25, 2021
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For Micah Parsons, a 2020 opt-out and the arguable top defensive prospect in the draft, Thursday’s Pro Day couldn’t have gone much better. 

Following months of criticism and skeptics abound after focusing the fall on his individual preparation for the draft—instead of suiting up for the Nittany Lions in Happy Valley—Parsons showcased his elite athletic ability to the swath of NFL scouts huddled inside Holuba Hall. Safe to say, he’s quieted the critics. 

Headlined by a 4.39 40-yard dash at 246 pounds, Parsons solidified his status as the top second-level talent in this class.

“I feel like I'm the most versatile player in this class,” Parsons said.

“I can play middle linebacker, I can play outside [linebacker], and I can pass-rush. I don’t think there’s really a place where I can’t play at the linebacker spot. Just being on the field, I’m going to utilize my skills and make things happen like I did at Penn State.”

A former defensive end/linebacker hybrid out of high school, Parsons transitioned primarily to the second level at Penn State, serving as the anchor within the Nittany Lions defense for two seasons. And now, as he’s entered the draft process, questions have arisen of his desire to potentially play both standing up in a two-point stance and with his hand in the dirt at the next level in certain packages. 

However, Parsons insisted he’s strictly set on wreaking havoc in the middle of the defense. 

“I’ve spoken to basically every team… the Raiders, the Steelers, the feedback has been great. They all have me at ‘backer, so, that’s what I’ll be playing at the next level.”

Not that Parsons’ projection was at all ever difficult, he’s far and away the top linebacker prospect in an overall weak defensive class, but it’s his versatility and willingness to serve different roles that have teams foaming at the mouth to have a chance to acquire a talent like Parsons, who could develop into an All-Pro within the nucleus of their franchise’s defense. 

It hasn’t all been easy during the evaluation process thus far for the Harrisburg, PA., native. His character has come into question stemming from a 2019 incident inside a Penn State locker room—so much so that teams around the league have seen Parsons slip from their top 10 board down to a mid or even late first-round selection, according to Lance Zierlein.

“People have concerns about some things that came up, but at the end of the day, I was a kid; I was 17-18. I’m not going to let something from three, four years ago dictate who I'm becoming.” 

Former Nittany Lion and longtime NFL linebacker LaVar Arrington went public in his support of Parsons, saying he’s “watched this young man [Parsons] grow over the years.” 

Arrington continued, stating: “he has always been an awesome young man. He graduated school in three years and he has his degree. He leaned on me to learn the ins and outs of how to study and approach the game of football... I [Arrington] had people attack my character when I was entering the draft and I had no advocates out there dispelling horrible rumors about my character. Micah watches my home and I learn a ton from him, he's such a brilliant young man. Anyone would be lucky and blessed to have him play for their team. Call it what you will but it's sad that any publications or insiders or anyone would question his character off of false reports. Shame on you.”

Moving forward, Parsons, who will be 22 before he takes his first snaps in the NFL, serves to be an absolute game-wrecker at the next level. From a football point of view, he’s everything scouts look for in second-level stalwarts. His speed speaks for itself, his downhill, physical style of play is mouth-watering on film, and he has the ability at 6-foot-3 to cover in space if asked to. 

In today’s NFL with tight end talents like Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, George Kittle, and soon-to-be Kyle Pitts, 12 (two tight ends) personnel has become increasingly popular. The surge of sideline to sideline, hybrid linebackers in the form of Roquan Davis, Darius Leonard, and Isaiah Simmons have become the new league standard at the position, and as the league becomes more and more pass-heavy as seasons go on, defenses are desperate for playmakers on their end to counter the flow of pass-catching talent that is ever-apparent in today’s game.

Parsons has the chance to become the face of a defense the minute he steps into an NFL facility. Following Thursday’s Pro Day, he’s made his final impression to teams as one of the top linebacker prospects to enter the draft in years. There are no more questions left to be asked. 

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