Over the past decade, only seven off-ball linebackers have been taken with a top-10 pick in the NFL draft. But barring injury or a surprise return to school, there will be another in 2021 — Penn State’s Micah Parsons. And he isn’t just any top-10 pick — he’s the closest thing to a linebacker prototype since Luke Kuechly coming out of Boston College back in 2012.
Parsons has ideal size, athleticism and production for a linebacker prospect, and he was only a sophomore last season. If he could have declared for the 2020 NFL Draft, the chances are he would have been selected before Isaiah Simmons.
That’s the caliber of prospect we’re talking about: What Penei Sewell is to the offensive tackle position, Parsons looks like for linebackers.
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Micah Parsons (@Micah_Parsons11) played a heck of a game against Michigan. 11 tackles, his instincts and speed to the ball is next level, he is just a playmaker. He was a force Saturday night.#WNSFilm pic.twitter.com/J3ovoYGFQO
— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) October 21, 2019
If you make Bruce Feldman’s Freaks List, you’ve probably got the goods in the physical-tools department. If you make the top-10 after your freshman season — as Parsons did last year (seventh) — you’re probably a rare specimen.
The 6-foot-3, 245-pounder qualifies as that. Parsons’ reported 4.43 40-yard dash would have been the second-fastest of any linebacker at this year’s combine, and his 4.24 short shuttle would have ranked third. And those times came as a 19-year-old. Parsons quite comfortably possesses prototypical physical tools for the position.