When the NCAA allowed players to opt-out due to COVID-19, some felt it could be foolish for a prospect's draft potential. A missed season could have the draft stock of a former bonafide top-10 pick fall outside the first round.
It was a risk Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons was willing to take for his young son, Malcolm.
The last time fans saw the 6-3 linebacker take the field was at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, at the 2019 Cotton Bowl. Flying left and right, the Memphis Tigers offensive line could do nothing to contain Parsons as a blitzer.
Brady White could feel the pressure, twice being taken down by the 246-pound defender. Parsons also jarred loose two fumbles, once on a sack and the other on a curl route from Tyce Daniel.
As for the 15-yard touchdown from Garrett Taylor? Credit Parsons for forcing White to let one loose. All and all, he recorded 14 total tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles on the way to being named the Cotton Bowl's defensive MVP.
Now, the status of Parsons is still much of an unknown entering the 2021 NFL Draft.
The former Nittany Lion, based off tape and traits, is considered by many to be the top linebacker of the class. More than just a three-down thumper, Parsons adds value off the edge as a blitzer and can be effective when asked to play in man coverage.
For the Washington Football Team, it could be the juice needed.
WFT's overall pass rush is fine, but adding a talent that can play the outside will be important. Jack Del Rio's zone-based scheme might not enhance Parsons' best traits, but the ability to add another blitzer will certainly bolster the status of Washington's defense.
In his final season, 590 of Parsons' 731 snaps came from the base linebacker positions, according to Pro Football Focus. However, when the tight end or running back was flexed to the slot, the sophomore played in 72 (10.2%) of plays in coverage. Off the edge with his hand in the dirt, Parsons also wasn't afraid to blitz as a simple edge rusher.
The 4.39 40-time speed solidified Parsons as a top 10 talent in the class. The question now will be if his character concerns will hamper is draft stock. In 2018, he was involved with a hazing incident among a Penn State player.
Will some teams be weary of selecting him for that?
Production and needs makes Parsons a perfect fit for Washington should he fall to the No. 19 on April 29. Resetting his mind and body, Parsons will have a chance to represent "Linebacker U" as the first linebacker to be taken on Day 1 since LaVar Arrington in 2000.
Who drafted Arrington? Washington at No. 2.
Scouting measurables: 6-3, 246 pounds, 31.5-inch arms, 11-inch hands, 4.39-second 40, 34-inch vertical, 19 bench reps
2019 Stats: 109 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks, 4.0 forced fumbles
Quotes: "I just feel like I'm the most versatile player in this class. I can play middle linebacker, I can play outside and I can pass rush. I don't think there's no place I can't play in a linebacker spot." - Micah Parsons on NFL role.
NFL Comparison: LaVar Arrington, Former Pro Bowl LB of Washington Football Team
CONTINUE READING: Jabril Vs. Jamin: Which SEC Linebacker Should Washington Pick?