Micah Parsons NFL Draft

Penn State’s Micah Parsons deserves lofty player comparisons

June 30, 2020

One of the most dangerous phrases a draft analyst can use this time of year (or at any point in draft analysis) is Player X is the next (insert legendary Hall of Famer here). It’s a setup for failure on almost every level.

But it’s what we do, right? Player comparisons are part of the scouting process, and they have value if they’re done right. Comparing a top wide receiver prospect to a player like Allen Robinson is useful. Comparing him to Julio Jones? Now that’s just ridiculous. There are some exceptions to this basic concept, however. Every so often, a rare player comes around who’s worthy of elite praise.

One player who fits that mold in the 2021 NFL Draft is Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons. He’ll be the top defensive prospect in next year’s draft and is already being discussed as a Luke Kuechly-like player.

Are those comparisons fair? Yes, they absolutely are.

Parsons is a physical marvel. He’s more than just a height-weight-speed guy, too. His instincts are the reason why he has that Kuechly profile and why he’ll end this season with a higher grade than Isaiah Simmons, the former Clemson star who the Cardinals drafted with the eighth overall pick last April. Simmons’ evaluation as a defensive weapon made him a sought-after player despite his likely NFL home as a linebacker, which traditionally isn’t a position drafted high in the first round.

Micah Parsons will be an exception to that draft-value rule, too. A team that’s searching for an impact defender off the edge and in the box will covet Parsons over any player in the class. He can rush the passer from anywhere on the field; he can slip, slide, and power his way through interior offensive linemen to penetrate against the run. He’s almost flawless.

As Pro Football Focus correctly noted, Parsons has room for growth and development in coverage. Unlike Kuechly, who may have been the best pass-defending inside linebacker ever, Parsons’ ability to stick with running backs and tight ends need improvement. There’s no reason to assume he won’t get better, considering his remarkable athleticism and movement skills. His desire to attack the football doesn’t always serve him well when playing against the pass and it’s that hesitation — even for a split second — that leads to fewer passes defended in his box score.

Run wild with the Parsons player-comps this year. He’s one of the few prospects who will live up to them.

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