03 Aug Preseason Scouting Notes: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Junior | 6’3” 245 lbs | Harrisburg, PA | May 26, 1999
A physical phenomenon with the size of a throwback linebacker and freaky athleticism of a modern coverage ‘backer who will be a true 3-level impact player at the NFL level
Micah Parsons came to Penn State as a consensus 5-star outside linebacker recruit and immediately became an impact player for the Nittany Lions as soon as he stepped on campus. Though he only started one game his freshman season, Parsons finished with the team lead in tackles and made an impact at all three levels of the field. As a sophomore, Parsons became one of the most disruptive defenders in college football while aligning at Mike, in the slot, and off the edge for Penn State’s 4-3 defense.
– Explosive downhill and sideline-to-sideline due to elite lateral agility and pursuit speed for the position
– Coverage range and ability to get depth on zone drops is fantastic for a player of his size
– Instinctual run defender who is able to key and diagnose quickly, giving him big-play ability in the backfield combined with his quick trigger
– Menacing blitzer who cannot be handled by running backs due to his ability to convert speed to power
– Very fluid ability to change direction
– Chases slot receivers to the curl/flat zone with ease
– Stays hip-to-hip in man coverage against tight ends quite well. Well
– Times stunts extremely well, finding himself as a free rusher often
– Versatility to play at Mike, in the slot, or with his hand in the dirt off the edge. Will fill a variety of roles at the NFL level
– Consistently makes tackles with the near shoulder and wraps up ball carriers well with strong grip strength
Areas to improve:
– High pad level hurts his block destruction and tackling
– Gives up cutback lanes by constantly dipping underneath blockers
– “Wait and see” tackler downfield. Needs to be more aggressive in chase situations
– Motor will wax and wane. Needs to keep it hot all game
Parsons projects to immediately step into a starting role as an impact linebacker at the next level. While the value of off-ball linebackers has taken a hit in recent years, Parsons’ coverage acumen and ability to make an impact off the edge should attract a team that wants to draft a defensive difference-maker within the top 10 picks. Expect Parsons to enter the NFL as an immediate plug-and-play Mike in either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme, and don’t be surprised if he ascends to an All-Pro level early in his career.
What to watch in 2020:
Can Parsons improve stacking blockers at the point of attack? He has the play strength to do so, but isn’t always willing to stick his nose in the fan and shows poor leverage at times. He can climb over the top of blocks, but he chooses to cut underneath them far too often, which takes him out of position to make plays. Most importantly, will he become the unequivocal leader of the Penn State locker room as he becomes an upperclassman?