Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons, one of the top NFL defensive draft prospects and one that an increasing number of mock drafts have going to the New York Giants at No. 11, addressed his alleged character issues following his impressive pro day last week.
“Obviously, people had some concerns about things that had happened,” said Parsons, who according to ESPN was named in a lawsuit filed by a former student against head coach James Franklin, accused of trying to dissuade the student from speaking with law enforcement officials following an alleged fight with the linebacker.
“But at the end of the day, I was a kid. I was 17-18. We all made mistakes when we were 17-18. I’m not going to let it control or dictate the person I am now. I’m not going to let something that happened four years ago dictate who I’m becoming and the father I want to be.”
On the field, Parsons wants to be a staple of an NFL team’s defense, and he points to his versatility as a key selling point that makes him an attractive candidate for a defense looking to create a multitude of packages.
“I just feel I’m the most versatile player in this class. I can play middle linebacker, I can play outside and I can pass rush. There’s no place I can’t play and utilize my skills,” Parsons said.
“My versatility is going to come in handy. I played D-end pretty much my whole life. So rushing the passer has never been a problem. First and second down, I can go sideline to sideline. Third down, I can go get the quarterback. So I think I’ll be walking into a great position.”
He certainly made the most of his versatility for the Nittany Lions despite an abbreviated career that saw him opt out of last season due to COVID-19 concerns.
Parsons recorded 6.5 sacks, 191 total tackles (18 tackles for a loss), six forced fumbles, and five pass breakups in 26 games. He also excelled as both a sideline-to-sideline coverage linebacker and a forceful downhill pass-rusher.
That kind of production undoubtedly has the Giants intrigued, especially given their continuous need for playmakers at the linebacker level. Speculation that the Giants might be even more serious about Parsons than first thought certainly cranked up when head coach Joe Judge personally made the trip to Happy Valley.
A head coach rarely goes to a pro day to focus solely on one player. And it's certainly feasible that Judge, who likes to optimize his time, checked in on tight end Pat Freiermuth, widely regarded by scouts as the second-best tight end in this draft behind Florida’s Kyle Pitts, and defensive end Jayson Oweh, another top prospect in the draft.
But the Giants head coach has stated in the past that he likes to get face time with prospective players so he can learn more about them and what makes them tick.
And thus far this off-season, Judge has had that opportunity to do so with two big free agents, receiver Kenny Golladay and cornerback Adoree’ Jackson, whose respective tenures with their previous teams allegedly end on a down note.
The Giants, who have built a solid culture in their locker room in which teammates hold each other accountable, take their lead from Judge and his staff. If Parsons were to find himself selected by the Giants, he’d not only be entering that strong culture, but he’d also have a chance to be reunited with former Penn State defensive line coach Sean Spencer, who left the program to join Judge’s staff last year.
“We’ve got an unbelievable relationship,” Parsons said when asked about his relationship with Spencer, nicknamed “Coach Chaos.”
Parsons joked that if he went to the Giants, one of the things he might look to do is grab Spencer to go bike riding.
“He was one of the main guys who recruited me (to Penn State). He gives me a call every other week. Have a tremendous relationship with him,” Parsons said. “Even if he doesn’t coach me again, I know I got a friend forever. I love that guy.”