2021 NFL Draft Profile: Penn State Linebacker Micah Parsons

By Matthew Filipovits on April 26, 2021 at 10:11 am
Sep 14, 2019; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions linebacker Micah Parsons (11) points towards the fans prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Pittsburgh 17-10. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports
© Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports
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The 2021 NFL Draft is rapidly approaching and the Nittany Lions are going to have more than a few players selected next weekend. Linebacker U great Micah Parsons is going to be the first Penn Stater to hear his name called and will become the first Penn State defender drafted in the first round in over a decade.

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Micah Parsons
Position: Linebacker
Height/Weight: 6'3/246 lbs.
Hometown: Harrisburg (PA)
Recruiting Ranking: ★★★★★(0.9982)
Strengths At a Glance: Speed, Tackling Ability, Consistency, Pass Rushing
Weaknesses At a Glance:  Coverage, Experience

Career Summary

Parsons came to Penn State as one of the most highly regarded recruits in program history. Hailing from Harrisburg, he was the type of can't-miss prospect that doesn't come around very often, and after a rocky recruitment, Penn State was able to land the nation's No. 5 player. A freak athlete, he was a 1,000 yard rusher in high school while dominating along the defensive line. He also was a talented wrestler before hanging up his shoes to focus on football.  He came to campus as an early enrollee, allowing him to jump-start his position switch from defensive end to linebacker, and immediately started receiving rave reviews from nearly everyone inside the program. 

Parsons Career Stats
  Games Tackles Tackles for Loss Sacks
2018 13 83 5 1.5
2019 13 109 14 -  5
TOTAL 26 192 19 6.5

As a true freshman, Parsons was stuck in a linebacker room full of upperclassmen who had bided their time. While he only started one game, he was on the field for nearly half of Penn State's defensive snaps that year and lead the team in tackles. He was rewarded by appearing on every Freshman All-American team and was an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention by the media.

With Koa Farmer's graduation, Parsons become the unquestioned starter in 2019 and immediately blossomed into one of the nation's best defenders. His 109 tackles rank sixth in program history for a single season, just one behind current Pittsburgh Steeler Marcus Allen. He registered at least 10 tackles in seven of the 13 games and made multiple tackles for loss in six outings. His best performance would end up being his last in the Blue and White when he terrorized the Memphis Tigers to the tune of 14 tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks, and two forced fumbles. He would opt out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns, ending his brilliant, but too short college career.

Strengths

Elite speed and instincts...Sure-tackler who plays through the whistle...Experience as a defensive end makes him a great pass rusher...Loves to play at or behind the line of scrimmage (a lot of his tackles were right at or within a yard of the line of scrimmage)...Hard hitter...Only going to get better as time goes on

Weaknesses

Has only played two seasons at linebacker, still has a lot to learn about the position...Struggled covering certain receivers and tight ends...Plays downhill at all times so he can overrun some things...Aggressive play style has led to some dumb penalties

Summary

Micah Parsons is the best defensive prospect in the draft class. He's the rare kind of player who can be a star from the moment he steps on the field, with it also being obvious he's only begun to scratch the surface. He's a phenomenal athlete who's always done everything the coaches have asked him to do (while also trying to add more to his plate). He's going to be most successful in a 4-3 scheme and could easily play both outside spots and shift inside in certain packages. He'll have growing pains in the coverage game but will churn out 100-tackle seasons for close to a decade if he stays healthy. Some off-field issues may keep some teams away and if that happens, one franchise is going to get an absolute steal.

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