NFL Mock Draft 2021: Penn State Football’s Micah Parsons vaults into top 5?

Micah Parsons #11 of the Penn State Nittany Lions (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Micah Parsons #11 of the Penn State Nittany Lions (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Former Penn State Football linebacker Micah Parsons might be the premier defensive prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft, and has a chance to be the first defensive player to hear his name called this April, and that’s the exact scenario that plays out in a new NFL Mock Draft 2021 projection.

Parsons, of course, opted out of Penn State Football’s 2020 season to turn his attention to preparing for the 2021 NFL Draft, and that preparation pays off in Pro Football Focus’ latest Mock Draft 2021 projection, with the blue chip linebacker going off the board No. 4 overall to the Atlanta Falcons:

"Parsons is a crazy athlete and an elite football player at off-ball linebacker. And yes, off-ball linebackers should not go in the top 10, but someone will see this man test at the scouting combine and fall absolutely in love.You can gauge how freaky an athlete he is by how often he “backdoors” zone runs and makes plays. He has everything you want in a linebacker with the coverage skills to match his run defense, and it would be more than amusing if it were the Falcons, with a new head coach and general manager, who get tunnel-visioned on that athleticism in lieu of a more valuable position.The Falcons could use him, and obviously their defense was putrid last season, but this is too high for an off-ball linebacker. Let’s hope it happens!"

A versatile Swiss-Army knife of a defender, Parsons arrived in Happy Valley as a five-star recruit out of Harrisburg as the highest-rated defensive end in his cycle, before immediately converting to inside linebacker where he became a First-Team All-American as a true sophomore.

Parsons is equally dangerous as a sideline-to-sideline defender as he is a pass-rusher, while also proving to be a dominant run-stuffer. Parsons was awarded a 94.8 run-stopping grade, the second highest Pro Football Focus has ever given a prospect.

In two seasons as the heart of the Nittany Lions’ defense, Parsons produced 191 total tackles, 6.5 sacks, six forced fumbles, and five pass breakups.

Adding Parsons to the Falcons’ defense would give Atlanta an immediate boost after finishing last season ranked No. 17 in DVOA and allowed 24.8 points per game.

If this projection holds true and the Falcons wind up selecting Parsons, he would become the highest-selected Nittay Lion since running back Saquon Barkley went No. 2 overall to the NY Giants back in 2018.