2021 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: LB Micah Parsons, Penn State

Nick Falato breaks down the tape of Micah Parsons, a draft prospect who's been mocked to the Giants in the first round by some.
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LB MICAH PARSONS

Height: 6'3"
Weight: 246 lbs.
Class: Junior 
School: Penn State


The 2019 All-American who won the Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year award was a 5-star recruit out of Harrisburg High School in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. According to 247 Sports, he was the 64th all-time ranked recruit, and he was the number five recruit in the 2018 cycle.

Parsons opted out of the 2020 season after a dynamic 2019 campaign where he recorded 109 tackles, 15 for a loss, five sacks, five passes defended, and four forced fumbles while also pressuring the quarterback 26 times. He finished his two years at Penn State with 36 pressures, 191 tackles, 18 for a loss, 6.5 sacks, five passes defended, and six forced fumbles.

A phenomenal pro day helped Parsons separate himself from other defensive players in the draft. Parsons ran a 4.39 40-yard-dash, jumped 126” in the broad (10’ 6”), ran an astonishing 6.89 3-cone drill, and jumped 34” in the vertical while benching 225 pounds 19 times; the latter two numbers aren’t as impressive as the former.

However, only five players who weighed more than 240 pounds have run a 40-yard-dash lower than a 4.40 since the year 2000.

Notables

Parsons was allegedly involved in a hazing scandal at Penn State. The star linebacker was purportedly an aggressive agitator towards a fellow player on the Penn State football team.

I have no inside information on the validity of the allegations, but they have to be acknowledged. If anyone in the NFL should have some clue into Micah Parsons’ character, it’s the Giants defensive line coach Sean Spencer and also senior offensive assistant Pat Flaherty, who was with Penn State from 2019-2020.

Traits

Great size, length, and impressive athleticism are used to win in many facets as a football player. He looks like he’s chiseled out of marble, and his lower half looks like it contains a lot of functional strength (which is shown on his tape). Parsons possesses excellent burst to the tackle point, quick twitch, change of direction ability, straight-line speed, acceleration, and very good play strength. He’s incredibly tough and plays with a lot of competitive toughness.

He has sideline to sideline type of speed and burst, and he consistently makes plays all over the field that suggest he should be a top 15 selection in the upcoming draft. He leverages his hands well to keep his chest clean and stack/shed blockers at the point of attack; he can also avoid blocks with his ability to evade and bend around linemen quickly.

Has the size, length, plays strength to quickly catch and shed interior offensive lineman at the second level—very fast accelerator who can close width with ease.

Not a lot of players have the movement skills of Micah Parsons; he explodes out of his stance and tracks down ball carriers from the backside--has excellent pursuit ability and tackling form. He breaks down and uses a wide tackle radius to secure and bury opponents. 

He attacks interior gaps well, gets horizontal, uses his hands well to stay clean, and packs a punch while showing a very good ability to bend and avoid clean blocking attempts.

He has a lot of pass rushing upside; he was recruited to Penn State as a pass rusher, and he uses his hands well. I don’t envision him being a great option as a full-time EDGE, but he is definitely someone who can have success in the right situations.

He has a good bend, a solid pass rush plan, and can convert speed to power on the EDGE. While blitzing, he destroys solid running backs in pass protection, and the force he generates from his lower body is very dangerous for offensive protection packages.

I wish there was more tape of him playing man coverage, but his athletic profile suggests he can execute man assignments well. He was solid in zone coverage - can tell he’s reading route combinations, and he clamps on underneath routes with authority. Parsons is a rare athlete who can affect the pass, the run, and the blitzing portion of playing NFL linebacker.

There are some negatives to Parsons’ game; for one, he isn’t as instinctual with his keys, and he does tend to lose responsibility at times against the run. Attacks with ferociousness downhill but is susceptible to misdirection--he could develop better eye discipline.

Overall, Parsons is a phenomenal athlete at the linebacker position who can help a defense’s ability to generate a pass rush in unique ways while also being a dynamic run defender with excellent speed. His processing could use a bit more work, and the character issues have to be addressed, but Parsons is one of the more entertaining athletes to watch on film. 


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