LB Micah Parsons, Penn St.* (6’3”, 245)
Transitioned from defensive end to linebacker when he arrived on campus. Has been a starter since arriving at Penn St. As a freshman, posted a line of 82-4.0-1.5, then followed that up with 109-14.0-5.0 as a sophomore. Also produced a total of six forced fumbles over the two seasons combined. Opted out of the 2020 season before declaring for the draft. Has already graduated.
Has only played linebacker since 2018 and already looks very comfortable in the role; excellent trajectory. Predominantly used as the team’s weakside linebacker, a role he has excellent size and length for, but also takes some snaps as the Mike. Does a little bit of everything on the field. Overall athleticism and range are impressive; sideline-to-sideline player. Able to weave through traffic and get to the ballcarrier when working between the tackles; can dip his shoulders, get skinny, or use his agility to work through trash. Closing burst is good. Offers a wide tackling radius to sling down runners. Can get low and cover a lot of ground when dropping into zone coverage. Flexible with smooth change-of-direction skills when operating in zone. Occasionally lines up opposite receivers/tight ends and uses his hands to feel routes developing. Willing to get physical and disrupt opponents running shallow crosses. Impressive explosiveness and dip when rushing off the edge, anticipating snap counts and timing his blitzes well. Flashes a nice swim move.
Desire to play downhill aggressively can be taken advantage of at times; may overpursue or commit to gaps too early. Can be washed down the line a little bit when he lets blockers engage him successfully in space; relies more on avoiding being engaged. Would like to see him get more extension to lock out opponents instead of engaging with his body. Doesn’t seem to have much of a power element when working as a pass-rusher. Gets a little bit grabby at the route stem. Will lapse into hitting instead of wrapping at times. Has faced allegations of hazing which could affect his draft stock depending on whether or not teams find them credible and/or are able to substantiate them.
A highly-productive two-year starter who can do virtually everything on the field, from flowing sideline-to-sideline and working through traffic to chase down ballcarriers to rushing the passer to working in both zone and man coverage off the ball. Projects as an every-down linebacker well-suited to the demands of the modern game, and is likely to come off the board in the first half of the first round, assuming teams aren’t bothered by the allegations which have been directed at him.