Sitting at No. 12 overall in the upcoming draft, the Eagles may miss out on Micah Parsons, the consensus No. 1 linebacker in this year’s class. But if this freak of nature ends up falling to 12, Howie Roseman will certainly consider selecting this game changer and giving his defense the first true three-down linebacker they’ve had in years.
Let’s take a look at Parsons’ strengths and weaknesses, as well as his fit in the Eagles defensive scheme.
Quite frankly, nearly every part of Parsons’ game is a strength. But the one aspect of his game that stands out above the rest, is his speed coming downhill and attacking ball-carriers.
Even on delayed blitzes, Parsons is the first one to get to the quarterback more often than not. His 4.39 40-yard-dash wasn’t a fluke — Parsons’ speed on tape holds up. For a guy who stands at 6’3″ 245 pounds, his speed and quickness really jumps off the screen.
His pass rushing ability is outstanding for a standup linebacker as well, which is mostly due to his time at defensive end during his high school career. Over his first three years at Central Dauphin High School playing primarily defensive end, Parsons recorded 41.5 sacks and 64.5 tackles for loss.
His speed and athleticism helps him in pass coverage as well. Parsons didn’t spend a whole lot of time covering tight ends and running backs, mostly because Penn State rarely asked him to do it, but when his number was called in pass coverage, Parsons answered. Although, his ball skills aren’t exactly polished, he does a fine job sticking with his man in coverage.
His pursuit of ball-carriers is also eye opening. Whether he’s chasing down a back in the backfield, or trailing a receiver in coverage, Parsons closes the gap quicker than any other linebacker entering this year’s draft. That play above showcases that ability.
In Jonathan Gannon’s system, the linebackers will be playing downhill quite a bit. Especially if he molds his defense around a Mike Zimmer style attack, which is something many fans and pundits are expecting. Zimmer routinely asks his linebackers to blitz in the interior and disrupt drop backs. If Gannon’s defense is in a similar vein, Parsons will fit in just fine.
Like I said earlier, there aren’t any glaring holes in Parsons’ game. But if I had to pick a “weakness,” it would be his ball skills in coverage.
While he has the ability to stick with running backs and tight ends in coverage, his ability to turn around and make a play on the ball is lacking a bit. This could hurt him in coverage at the next level, but it’s not enough to take anything away from his overall draft stock.
Parsons also struggles with diagnosing plays from time to time, but his athletic ability and closing speed was able to make up for it in college. It’ll need work at the next level to ensure Parsons can be someone who stays on the field for every down.
The Eagles will have a lot of great options at 12th overall in April’s draft. Parsons may not be one of them, but if he’s there, he’ll almost certainly be the best prospect on the board.
Parsons fits into the same category as someone like Kyle Pitts. That natural athleticism coupled with their outstanding play on the field makes these guys can’t miss prospects entering the NFL. Parsons will be the best linebacker on the roster from day one if he ends up in Philly.
I don’t think there’s a fan that would be upset with this selection. He fills one of the biggest needs facing this team and he has the potential to be a transcendent talent.