Micah Parsons Scouting Report: 2021 NFL Draft Prospect Profile
Updated: Dec 15, 2020
By Bobby Bishop.
Micah Parsons -- LB, Penn State
Height -- 6’3” Weight -- 245 lbs Class -- Junior Hometown -- Harrisburg, PA
Micah Parsons grew up in Harrisburg, PA, just an hour and a half drive from Penn State University. Micah Parsons was an excellent athlete as a kid, especially standing out in football. He played basketball in high school, but began getting heavily recruited for football.
At Harrisburg High School, Coach Calvin Everett utilized him as a defensive end and a running back. Parsons ran for 1,239 yards and 27 touchdowns as a senior (I feel bad for the kids who had to try to tackle him after a full day of Algebra) however, he was being evaluated as a top player in the nation for his abilities on the other side of the ball.
Recruiting websites such as 247 had him as a 5 Star recruit and a top-5 player in the nation. Parsons committed to play college ball at the local Penn State, where he was instantly viewed as a hometown hero. Months after enrolling early, Parsons had a son with his girlfriend. On the field, his life was changing too, as Coach Franklin moved him to middle linebacker and told him that he would have a chance for the starting job as a freshman.
Parsons didn’t win the job (only starting one game), but somehow still managed to become the first Nittany Lion to lead his team in tackles (82) as a freshman. Parsons exploded as a sophomore, stuffing the stat sheet and earning the Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year award.
Before the 2020 season, Micah Parsons opted out due to Covid-19 concerns and a desire to protect his now two-year old son. He declared for the 2021 NFL Draft and is spending the season working out for it.
Parsons is elite at blitzing. He gets to the quarterback at a high rate, earning five sacks in 2019. He has great bend at the line of scrimmage and excels at turning vertical to make himself small, get through the tackles, and into the backfield. He also is very good at pass rushing off the edge, giving himself the versatility to play OLB in a 3-4 defense.
He is very good at stopping the run game, excelling at reading the ball in the backfield. It is extremely rare to fool Parsons with play action or a fake jet sweep, which is important with all the motions that go on in modern offenses. Another strength of Parsons is his ability to force fumbles. He forced four in 2019 and two as a freshman in 2018.
He looks out of place when dropping back into coverage at times. Also, we rarely saw him in man coverage, if ever. Most of the time when he dropped back, it was into a zone.
He doesn’t have good hands, with zero interceptions in college. Parsons had a few easy picks thrown right at him that he dropped. His coaches put him into the right place, and he couldn’t convert the gift into an interception. This happened multiple times as a sophomore.
Furthermore, Parsons has a long way to go to develop into a Luke Kuechly, cerebral middle linebacker. He called some plays for Penn State, but he relied on the coach for those play calls/audibles. He needs to become better at pre-snap awareness, if he has aspirations of being a future captain of an NFL defense.
Darius Leonard. Leonard is a tackling machine, who is elite at blitzing and getting into the backfield. Leonard is much more developed than Parsons dropping back into coverage at this time though.
Micah Parson has all the intangible, physical tools to play linebacker for a long time in the NFL. He is elite at adding pressure to the pocket; however, he will need to develop in a few areas. The NFL is trending towards being more pass happy. If he wants to add value to himself and play more middle linebacker, he is going to have to improve at coverage skills. Otherwise, tight ends will feast when matched up against Parsons.
Furthermore, when an NFL team spends a high first round pick on a linebacker, they are hoping that he develops into a Kuechly or Bobby Wagner type. Parsons has a long way to go pre-snap wise.
Opting out shouldn’t hurt Parsons, especially considering how lost the Penn State defense looks without him; however, he missed a chance to develop in the cerebral areas of playing linebacker, and instead focusing on his already gifted athleticism and strength.
Regardless, Parsons should be a very high draft pick. He is elite in several areas that can’t be coached, and his only shortcomings are in areas that can be coached. In the right system with the right coaches, Micah Parsons will be an elite linebacker in the NFL for the next decade.
1st LB taken. Top 10 pick.
Vs. Minnesota (in depth breakdown) (2019) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jaybc9kX7NU