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Saturday scouting report - Micah Parsons (LB, Penn State) - And games to watch this week

Taking a look at the linebacker who’s already declared for the 2021 draft

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Penn State v Memphis Photo by Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images

Good morning New York Giants fans and happy Saturday!

I decided to call an audible and make a change to our weekly college football post. We’ll still be looking at games and prospects, but I wanted to take advantage of the unique 2020 season. It was a disappointment to see some of the top prospects in the upcoming draft opt out of the season over concerns regarding COVID-19.

However, that also provides an opportunity for us, and I decided to take the opportunity to start preliminary scouting reports on the top players who have opted out of the season. These are by no means final reports — they’ll be updated over the course of our draft prep for the 2021 NFL Draft.

First up is a name with which Giants fans will be getting very familiar over the coming months, Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons.

Prospect: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Class: Junior

Measurables

Height: 6030 (6-foot-3)
Weight: 245 pounds

2019 Stats

Games: 13
Tackles: 109
Tackles For A Loss: 14.0
Sacks: 5.0
Forced Fumbles: 4
Passes Defensed: 5

Traits at a glance

What he does best: Size, athletic ability, instincts, competitive toughness
What he does worst: Hand usage, over-aggressiveness
Projection: Starting linebacker with scheme and positional diversity

Scouting Report

Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons has prototypical size, speed, and agility for the position. He has good size in his upper and lower body, while carrying his weight well and maintaining his athleticism.

Parsons is active in the pre-snap phase of the play, moving around the defensive formation to disguise his intentions. He is also an active communicator before the snap as well, communicating with his teammates to make adjustments to their alignments. Parsons shows good football IQ and quick mental processing at the snap of the ball. He routinely takes an accurate first step, positioning himself in the path of the play with the minimum of wasted time and movement.

Parsons is an excellent athlete at the position, showing explosive acceleration downhill, good lateral range, and the ability to turn and run with most tight ends and linebackers. Parsons has a background as a defensive end, which gives him added upside as a pass rusher. He shows good timing when attacking gaps and does a good job of presenting a minimum amount of surface area to blockers.

He plays with good competitive toughness, routinely fighting through blocks or pursuing plays sideline-to-sideline, through the echo of the whistle. Parsons is a reliable tackler who generally uses good form to bring down ball carriers and limit yards after contact.

Parsons shows the ability to stack and shed tight ends, fullbacks, and offensive linemen, but needs to be more consistent in using his hands. He has a tendency to dip a shoulder as if he was using a rip move, but not use his hands. Parsons also has a tendency to play high and would be even more effective taking on blockers with consistently lower pad level and better leverage. He can also be stiff and upright in his backpedal when asked to make deeper drops.

Projection

Parsons projects as a starting linebacker with true scheme and positional versatility at the NFL level. Parsons has the athleticism and versatility to play as a middle linebacker in 4-3 front or as a weak-inside linebacker in a 3-4 front. His background as a defensive end also allows him to play close to the line of scrimmage as a SAM linebacker or as a stand-up rusher. However, it should be noted that he doesn’t quite have the size to play on the line of scrimmage full time, and his versatility will encourage coaches to move him around.

Parsons has the kind of football IQ, instincts, mental processing, and competitive toughness you want to see from a linebacker, and could conceivably be the leader of a defense. He never gives up on a play and is willing and able to pursue a play across the field. He’s a reliable tackler when he gets to the play, using good form to limit yards after contact and delivers hits with authority.

While Parsons is very active before the snap, there is little wasted motion from him after the snap, and he generally takes an accurate first step to the ball. That being said, he is a very aggressive player, which can border on over-aggressiveness. He can occasionally run himself out of plays by taking very aggressive angles to the ball and taking himself out of position.

He shows a good feel for rushing the passer, timing his blitzes well to shoot gaps into the backfield. Parsons can be a headache for offenses as he is generally to powerful for running backs, fullbacks, and tight ends to block one-on-one, and too quick for offensive linemen to block easily.

Parsons is capable in coverage, with good awareness of the play and good movement skills in space for a linebacker. He is able to turn and run with most running backs and tight ends in man coverage and generally shows good awareness in zone coverage. That being said, he isn’t a DB/LB hybrid, and his roots on the defensive line are evident when asked to backpedal any distance. He is stiff and upright in a backpedal and generally doesn’t look comfortable. Defensive coordinators would do well to limit his coverage responsibilities to zones in the shallow or intermediate area, or put him in position to play downhill.

Games to watch today

I didn’t want to not mention the games and players who will be on the field today, so feel free to use this as an open thread to discuss the day’s games as well as Parsons.

Boston College vs. (12) North Carolina

ABC - 3:30 p.m.

North Carolina

  • Chazz Suratt (LB) *former quarterback
  • Dazz Newsome (WR)
  • Dyami Brown (WR)
  • Michael Carter (RB)

Boston College

  • Tyler Vrabel (OT) *red-shirt sophomore
  • Ben Petrula (OT)
  • Zion Johnson (iOL)
  • Alec Lindstrom (iOL)

(4) Georgia vs. (7) Auburn

ESPN - 7:30 p.m.

Georgia

  • Tyson Campbell (CB)
  • Eric Stokes (CB)
  • Richard LeCounte III (S)
  • Jordan Davis (iDL)
  • Monty Rice (LB)
  • Tre’ McKitty (TE)
  • Zamir White (RB)

Auburn

  • Seth Williams (WR)
  • Anthony Schwartz (WR)
  • Roger McCreary

Podcast

Joe Deleone and I are premiering a new Saturday morning podcast focused on college football and the draft alongside the change in format.

How to subscribe

Whether you’re into the ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast, Nick Falato’s fantasy football previews and League-wide recaps, or you find ‘The Chris and Joe Show’ more to your liking, you can subscribe to Big Blue View Radio from the show’s home page, our Big Blue View Radio Hub Page and all of your favorite podcast apps:

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Finally, be sure to check out all of the shows across the expanding Vox Media Podcast Network.