The Philadelphia Eagles have had some pretty decent linebackers over the last 30 years – Seth Joyner, Byron Evans, Jeremiah Trotter, Nigel Bradham, etc. – but, as has been well documented, they haven’t actually drafted a linebacker in the first round since Jimmy Carter was in the White House. (It was 1979, and that first-round pick was UCLA’s Jerry Robinson, who went on to have a solid 13-year NFL career, the first six of those seasons with the Birds.)
Could that change later this month? Perhaps. If Penn State standout Micah Parsons is still there at No. 12 when it’s time for the Eagles to make their first-round selection, they would be wise to consider going that route.
College: Penn State
Class: Junior (Opted Out Last Season)
Hometown: Harrisburg, PA
Weight: 245 lbs
Draft Projection: Round 1 – Top 15
Parsons was actually a star running back in high school (Central Dauphin H.S. and then Harrisburg High), but upon arriving at Penn State in 2018, he was moved to middle linebacker where he could utilize his elite athleticism. He played very well as a freshman, and then had a breakout sophomore season in 2019: 109 tackles (14 of those for a loss), 5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 5 pass deflections. He was the Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year and a consensus All-American.
The 6’3, 245-pound Parsons opted out of the 2020 season. However, even without having played a game for 15 months, Parsons is ranked as the top linebacker in this year’s draft by Pro Football Focus.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Parsons’ strengths, according to NFL.com, include his speed (he ran the 40 in 4.39 seconds at his Pro Day), his strength, and his athleticism (including a 34-inch vertical jump) and explosiveness – “burst/speed rarely seen at linebacker.”
NFL.com says Parsons’ weaknesses include occasional impatience — he sometimes runs himself out of position with unnecessary early charges, subpar hands (he has missed out on some easy interceptions) and “issues battling downhill rushing attacks coming right at him.” There have also been concerns mentioned by some observers, including WIP’s Jon Ritchie, that Parsons has some immaturity issues and isn’t always willing to follow instructions. (He was also mentioned in a former teammate’s hazing lawsuit filed against Penn State, though no charges were filed.)
Bottom line: Micah Parsons will almost certainly be the first linebacker drafted April 29 and he should be a Day 1 starter in the NFL. But who will take him? Several mock drafts and “experts” believe he will go to the Miami Dolphins at No. 6 overall, the Detroit Lions at No. 7, the New York Giants at No.11, or the Los Angeles Raiders at No. 13. Meanwhile, several mock drafts do have the Eagles taking Parsons at No. 12. Hey, it could happen – but don’t count on it!
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Jim “Chet” Chesko
Philly Pressbox Radio Co-host
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