Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons put on a show at his pro day Thursday.
Considered one of the best defenders in the 2021 NFL Draft, Parsons recorded a 40-yard dash time of 4.39 seconds. Just to appreciate how fast that is, Parsons measured in at 6-foot-3 and 246 pounds. The 40-yard dash record for a linebacker at the NFL Scouting Combine is Shaquem Griffin's 4.38 in 2018. It should be noted that Griffin is three inches shorter and 20 pounds lighter than Parsons.
Parsons, who also notched a 34-inch vertical and bench pressed 225 pounds 19 times Thursday, opted out of the 2020 season. In 2019 he recorded 109 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, five sacks and four forced fumbles in a full season of work for the Nittany Lions. His athleticism will likely allow him to play any linebacker spot at the next level, which would make him a valuable asset in new Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn's system.
"I just feel like I'm the most versatile player in this class," Parsons said in a Zoom call after his pro day workout. "I can play middle linebacker, I can play outside and I can pass rush. I don't think there's no place I can't play in a linebacker spot."
Parsons is big and physical, and he showed Thursday that speed is also part of his game.
But Detroit also has the No. 7 overall pick in next month's draft, and improving their last-ranked defense from a year ago has to be on the mind of new general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell. Parsons could be a versatile plug-and-play guy who Glenn can be pretty creative with, given Parsons' skill set and versatility.
Parsons said he's talked to the Lions already a couple times in the pre-draft process, including the coaching staff Thursday.
"My versatility is going to come in handy," he said. "I played defensive end growing up pretty much my whole life, so rushing the passer has never been a problem. Obviously what I showed at Penn State going sideline to sideline has never been a problem.
"A lot of teams have been talking about first and second down having me go sideline to sideline and on third down having me go get the quarterback. So, I think I'm going to walk into a great position."