New York Jets 2021 Draft Targets: Micah Parsons

Micah Parsons

Despite the enjoyment of August baseball, it’s never too soon to talk about the next NFL Draft. The New York Jets will certainly need to prep for this upcoming draft, as they’ll now have two first-round selections following the Jamal Adams trade. Judging by the state of the league, it also stands as a very real possibility that the Jets are drafting near the top of the order. So, I wanted to begin highlighting a couple of targets for the Jets in the 2021 draft.

Who is Micah Parsons?

Micah Parsons has been a member of the Penn State Nittany Lions since 2018. From Harrisburg High School, Parsons was a highly-touted athlete in his recruiting class. As he’s transitioned over the past two seasons to college football, he found his niche as a new age linebacker. Similar to Isaiah Simmons in last year’s class, Micah can do it all.

He’s a tackling machine, a threat in the box, and brings solid coverage abilities to the table. Personally, I firmly believed that with a strong season in 2020-21 he could have been a candidate as a top 5 pick. Instead, Micah chose to opt-out for the greater good of his child and the rest of his family. So, Micah will now turn his attentions to training for the NFL Draft, where he will still be picked early with solid combine and pro day showings.

Just How Good Is Micah?

Micah has been an absolute beast since showing up to University Park. In his freshman year, Micah put up pretty solid numbers with 82 tackles, 4.0 TFLs, 1.5 sacks, and 2 Forced Fumbles. Micah’s biggest gain from that season was his experience on the field and the knowledge he gained on how to develop further as a linebacker who can do it all. Then, last season, he EXPLODED.

Micah had 109 tackles, 14 TFLs, 5 sacks, 4 Forced Fumbles, and 2 Fumble Recoveries. He finished 3rd in the Big Ten in tackles, 6th in Solo tackles, 2nd in assists and 10th in TFLs. He was highly regarded, but his performance in the Cotton Bowl launched him to superstardom. Parsons ended up with a stat line of 14 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 3 TFLs, and 2 forced fumbles. Parsons blew the college football world away and has already solidified himself as a future star in the NFL.

How Micah Could Fit With The Jets

Micah Parsons is the kind of player who could be the captain of the defense for the next 15 years. As a linebacker hybrid, he would add a similar value to what Jamal Adams brought to the team. Micah would be a building block as a leader for the long term. It would also make the possibility of moving C.J. Mosley a lot more feasible. The Jets would be able to free a load of cap and have a future leader with the Parsons move.

Obviously, a lot of things would need to fall the right way for Micah to be wearing the Green and White, but hypothetically, he could make sense in the organization. My only worry with any future defensive piece is he may overplay his contract worth, and the team may continue to flounder, and the Jets would have another Jamal situation on their hands.

Penn State Gets New ST Coordinator and QB, Planned Facility Upgrade

It’s a decent week to be a fan of the Penn State Nittany Lions. There’s been a flurry of news this week around the team, even though it’s still the offseason and no actual team activities have started just yet, and that news ranges from recruiting updates to news about one of the team’s main facilities. Perhaps the most notable recent news, though, is that the team has filled one of the main vacancies on their staff going into next season.

Special Teams Coordinator Phil Galiano made the move to the NFL and joined the New Orleans Saints staff as an assistant, leaving Penn State with an opening at the position. That opening has been filled by Joe Lorig, who previously coached at Memphis and had the same position before moving to Texas Tech and then moving up to Penn State before settling into the new job.

With Memphis not giving up a special teams touchdown under Lorig during his few years with the program, it seems like Penn State is getting a good addition to fill out their staff.

Another noteworthy piece of news is that the team has a new quarterback joining their 2020 class. Micah Bowens, who plays for well-known high school program Bishop Gorman, committed on Tuesday. Bowens is ranked as the 4th best recruit in Nevada and the 23rd best dual threat quarterback in the class overall, and also has offers from Arizona and BYU.

Bowens has showed off his skills on the ground plenty so far in high school, and this looks like a continuation of the trend of Penn State recruiting mobile quarterbacks.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the team’s main training facility, the Lasch Building, is scheduled for renovations worth $1.5M after a large donation from alum John Leone, who recently gave $6.5M to the school in total. Of course, the building has been renovated before in the past, but in a conference like the Big Ten, it never hurts to do more and keep up with high quality competition such as Ohio State and Michigan.

Big Ten Football: Penn State Has A Transfer Problem

Now that the college football season is over, it’s time for free agency. Even if that would have sounded like a crazy statement years ago, it’s how things are now. It’s easier for players to transfer, and for better or worse, the practice has become common. Transfers can even help to make or break a team. Just look at Heisman winners Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray for examples of how a player can excel after changing teams.

But when you have 12 players either transferring or intending to transfer, something might be wrong with your team. That’s the situation that Penn State is in right now. Eight players have already found new schools to transfer to, this offseason. Four others have declared their intentions to transfer but haven’t found their destinations yet. It’s not like these are all players that would never get a chance to see the field if they remained at Penn State, either.

Redshirt senior Juwan Johnson, the team’s second leading receiver last season, is on the list of players that intends to transfer. Typically, a player like Johnson would be counted on as a leader going into the 2019 season. It’s rare for a player, after all, to want to leave after playing for three years at a school and having a large role lined up for next season. Others, such as 2018 freshman defensive back Isaiah Humphries, didn’t see playing time with Penn State so far but will be lost as future assets because of transferring.

“It’s difficult to see guys leave. It’s kind of the nature of college football at this point, just the landscape of it. I think we have a really good leadership group on our team right now. Maybe guys who weren’t leaders on the team last year but have stepped up into that spotlight. I think guys are responding to it really well,” Penn State punter Blake Gillikin told the Centre Daily Times.

Head coach James Franklin has been silent on the matter for now. Should Franklin speak up about it soon? Probably. National Signing Day is on February 6, and a large exodus of players isn’t a good look in recruiting at all. It’s too soon to say whether or not this is on Franklin and the rest of the staff, but it’s also something that fans should pay attention to. These kinds of things don’t just happen for no reason, after all. And going into National Signing Day, the trend is worrying for a Penn State team that’s already coming off of a bowl loss.

Penn State Loss Leaves Fans Hoping For Basketball Season

This is a bizarre thing to write at this time of year, but Penn State is officially a basketball school for the rest of the year. There’s really not much to be said that can justify their 42-7 loss in Ann Arbor, against a Michigan team that was favored to win but not in this manor. Most fans would have accepted a loss to the Wolverines. But like this? These are the kinds of results that ruin the mood for the rest of a season.

“Trace at 100%? Yeah, I think helps us, there’s no doubt about it. But we’ve got to give them credit. They’re the number one defense in the country for a reason. That was the bigger difference tonight,” said Penn State head coach James Franklin. But blaming any part of this loss on Trace McSorley not being 100% is a bit absurd.

It’s not that McSorley played a perfect game or even a good game, but there’s many other problems to look at, such as the defense allowing 42 points. The entire team played poorly and it’s hard to believe that even a good game from McSorley would have prevented the final scoreline from being something like this.

You can make an argument that Penn State quit, not during this game but after losing to Ohio State and Michigan State in succession. None of us can be completely sure what caused it, but at least a large portion of the blame has to go on the coaching staff. After all, motivation is one of the main jobs of a coach.

That’s not to take away from Michigan, as they entered as a top five team, but Penn State should have at least kept it competitive for a bit going down the stretch. The team played like one that gave up, and because of it, Penn State is not only eliminated from the conference race but from the hunt for a good bowl game.

No Fiesta Bowl, this year. At this rate, they would be lucky to beat Wisconsin, win out, and maybe make the Citrus Bowl.

There is one good team in Happy Valley right now, however. The basketball team defeated kind-of-sort-of rivals West Virginia in an exhibition leading up to the start of the season, by a score of 84-82. Of course, the game doesn’t mean anything, but it’s an interesting result against the 13th ranked team in the nation,

Forward Lamar Stevens is the top player on the team going into the season, and he managed 20 points and 11 rebounds in what could be a preview of things to come during the regular season. The Penn State basketball program actually has more prestige than you may think, capturing its second NIT title last season by defeating Utah in the title game.

Head coach Pat Chambers also performed well enough to earn himself an extension through 2022. So while the Penn State football team is playing like a team that has quit, that’s not true of the basketball team. The basketball team is the one that won a title last season, and one that might overachieve this season instead of underachieving. Then again, the expectations on basketball are far lower, while the football team was expected to at least compete for the Playoff.

The basketball team will begin their regular season November 9th, against North Florida. They’ll play a slate of easy games against small conference opposition before meeting nationally ranked Virginia Tech on the 27th. The football team, on the other hand, takes on Wisconsin next Saturday before finishing their season with two more games against Rutgers and Maryland.

Big Ten: Big Stakes In Saturday’s Penn State Versus Iowa Game

The two current favorites to win the Big Ten, Michigan and Ohio State, are both on bye weeks right now. It seems like this slate of games isn’t the best one. Nebraska will face FCS Bethune-Cookman, and while the Huskers are struggling, an upset isn’t something you should bet on. Purdue faces Michigan State after defeating the Buckeyes, but both teams are unranked and aren’t considered to be in the hunt for the conference title.

But there are important games. You just have to look past the teams that are near the top of the polls.

Wisconsin faces Northwestern for the lead in the Big Ten West, but the Badgers will enter as the favorites and only one of the teams in this game is ranked. However, there is one matchup between ranked teams, and that’s Penn State versus Iowa. Of all the games nationally this weekend, it’s the one that shouldn’t be overlooked, because it will definitely change the trajectory for both teams and maybe even a few others, regardless of who wins.

Iowa is in a four way race with Wisconsin, Purdue, and Northwestern, all three teams possessing one loss this season. Northwestern is in the lead by virtue of playing one more game than Wisconsin, but if they lose and Iowa defeats Penn State, it would put Iowa on even footing with Wisconsin and Northwestern behind both teams after gaining their second loss in the conference. If Northwestern and Iowa both win, the Wildcats stay in first place and Iowa would be right behind them.

Purdue is also in the equation but they would need a win against Michigan State to stay in the hunt for now, and despite their win over the second ranked team in the country, Michigan State shouldn’t be written off. They’re less of a mistake prone team than Ohio State is this season and they played Michigan close for much of the game last week.

Of course, Iowa jumping ahead of Purdue and Wisconsin assumes that they beat Penn State, which wouldn’t be entirely unreasonable but also isn’t a given. The Nittany Lions managed to string together two straight losses fairly recently, around the same time they pulled it off last season. They also didn’t do as much as they could have against Indiana, and Iowa was one of the teams that gave them trouble last year. Could the Hawkeyes actually get the win here? It’s pretty reasonable to predict that they will, given Penn State’s past three outings.

Penn State is already out of the chase for the conference title, but which bowl game they go to this year will depend on what they do with the rest of the season and they need to win out to salvage things and get into a good bowl. There will likely be more challenges directed at James Franklin’s job if they lose here, meaning there’s a lot on the line for both teams. Penn State wants to get to a good bowl, and Iowa can move up in a race that, right now, involves four teams.

Only one team will get what they want from this game… But either way, the result will influence an entire division.

Penn State: The Season Is Already Over For The Nittany Lions

This isn’t what the more optimistic fans will want to hear, but the season is effectively over for Penn State. Not that there aren’t more games to play, but they just don’t mean the same thing that they meant before the Nittany Lions went down to Michigan State on Saturday. You can tell yourself that Penn State is historically just below the blue bloods in terms of accomplishments, and that finishing the year with a couple of losses and a bowl win would be satisfying.

But deep down, not many people truly believe that. There’s a reason why Penn State fans wanted revenge against Ohio State this year, after all. Not just because of the way the game ended last year, but because of the effects of that game. Penn State had been on the brink of making it into the College Football Playoff, and losing to Ohio State effectively eliminated them from the running.

Why was the result so disappointing? Because that team had enough talent to make the Playoff, and they underperformed. It’s the same story with this year’s team, which also lost to Ohio State and now Michigan State… The same two teams that Penn State suffered losses to in 2017. But this year’s Michigan State loss isn’t the same as the one last time.

The team scored less, failing to even put up 20 points, and allowed MSU quarterback Brian Lewerke to bully the defense for 259 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Those are better numbers than Trace McSorley’s 192 yards, and despite putting his all into his performance, the PSU signal caller couldn’t bail the team out again with late game heroics. Not with this playcalling on offense.

You can pretend that it’s business as usual, but the fact is, this isn’t a normal loss and this isn’t the kind of loss that should be expected and excused. The losses against Ohio State in back to back years were bad, but it’s easier to justify those. Ohio State is one of the top teams in the country every year, and many favored them going into those games. You could argue that Penn State holding leads in both games was a fluke, and that the better team won, as expected.

But Michigan State? They’re unranked right now. They already had two losses coming into this game. Not only that, but it was in front of a packed home stadium and it was on Homecoming. Not exactly the best circumstances to drop a game. Some will say that every team loses games. That’s true. But championship teams don’t lose games like these.

Penn State doesn’t need to be Alabama, and finish the season as the number one undefeated team. But they do need to stop dropping games like the Michigan State one this year or even last year, if they ever want to make the Playoff. Some Penn State fans fall into the trap of thinking that the team has to be above average, and not elite.

The truth is, the potential is there to do better. Penn State has shown over the past years that they can play with anybody, after all. If one or two drives had gone differently, they could be undefeated right now. Something needs to change, to unlock that potential.

It’s starting to look like James Franklin’s most successful years were less about him and more about the generational talent coming out of his backfield, Saquon Barkley. And about offensive coordinator Joe Moorehead, who is now in Starkville. It’s time for Franklin to move on from his assistant coaches, because if that doesn’t happen soon, it will be hard to not place the blame on him rather than the rest of his staff.

Of course, Franklin has some benefit of the doubt after playing a big part in bringing Penn State football back to relevance. But it’s becoming increasingly clearer where his ceiling is. Franklin needs to do something to change this perception, that the team will pick up two losses every year under him no matter what the expectations going into the season are. More changes on the staff isn’t what the team really needs, but the play on the field isn’t leaving many option.

Or no changes can happen, and Penn State can become another Auburn. A team that can sometimes play with the top ones in the country, but also one that frequently under-performs based on what the expectations entering the season are. Whatever the case, it looks like this season is going to be a crucial turning point to determine which of those routes the team takes.

Big Ten: The Biggest Winners And Losers From Week Five

The fifth weekend of college football is over, with less upsets this week but still some interesting results. The Big Ten especially had an exciting weekend, with the result of the Ohio State versus Penn State game causing a shakeup in the polls as Ohio State moved into the top three, and Penn State fell out of the top ten entirely and most likely out of the race for the Big Ten East.

Who emerged as the winners, and who emerged as the losers on Saturday?

Winner: Ohio State Buckeyes

There’s a very real chance that Ohio State finishes the regular season undefeated. The toughest opponents on their schedule at this point are Michigan and Michigan State, but it looks like they can run everyone else over easily. Upsets happen, but one shouldn’t just assume that a top three team will be upset because it’s technically in the realm of possibility.

No, it looks like the Buckeyes will either take a loss against one of the Michigan teams, or play for the Big Ten title with an undefeated record. They’re listed here as winners because they just got past the hardest game on their schedule, even if it took some bizarre missed tackles and a similarly ridiculous playcall near the end of the game to let them take the lead. Still, despite the Penn State team collapsing, the Buckeyes earned the win.

Now, they just have to get through the rest of the season with an even bigger target on their back. Can they do it? It would have sounded unlikely at the start of the season, but with the way Dwayne Haskins Jr. is playing in his first season as a starter, it’s not so bold of a prediction anymore.

Loser: Scott Frost And Nebraska Fans

This once great program can’t catch a break. Nebraska has started the season with no wins and four losses, the latest one coming at the hands of Purdue. Some predicted that the 0-3 start would make the Huskers come out with something to prove, leading them to a division win against an opponent that has shown up with mixed performances and close losses this season. This game, though, wasn’t as close as the other ones featuring Purdue this season.

The Nebraska defense still isn’t much better. They allowed 42 points, giving Purdue their best offensive performance of the entire season. It’s not the way that Scott Frost wanted things to start off in his first year as Nebraska’s head coach, and it certainly won’t help the Cornhuskers in recruiting. It doesn’t matter that this is a rebuilding year and that the team wasn’t expected to win.

While they weren’t expected to be good, an 0-4 start is worse than anyone but the most pessimistic of fans imagined. It’s going to severely hurt the confidence in head coach Scott Frost, and while he’s still supported by the fans for now, none of the hype that existed before the season is still there. The hype is what went away first. How long will it be before the locker room is lost, or the rest of the confidence held by the fans?

The answers to those questions depend on when Nebraska picks up win number one.

Loser: Good Playcalling

Penn State called an interesting play on their last possession of the game against Ohio State, which ended with a turnover own downs. To call the play interesting, however, is really sugarcoating it. Let’s tell it like it is. It was a bizarre call, and it helped the Buckeyes win the game. In the end, it came down to one play to continue the drive with a chance to win the game by kicking a field goal.

And instead of going for literally any other option, the staff called a play to send Miles Sanders right up the middle, where he would be stopped far short of the first down marker. The same Miles Sanders that had less than 50 yards for the entire game.

“We knew they were going to make their linebackers jump when we moved Miles, and they weren’t going to be set in position, and it was going to give us a chance to get a hole up the middle and crease them,” said Trace McSorley, in an attempt to explain the thought process behind the play. “We weren’t able to pick up a twist, and a guy got in the backfield and made a play.”

Look on any fan forum of choice, and you can find plenty of confusion about this playcall not just from Penn State fans, but from fans around the country. That’s why this is the second thing in the loser’s section. It’s fitting because in this case, it might have lost Penn State the game.

 

Photo Gallery: The Penn State vs Ohio State Gameday Experience

Ohio State versus Penn State didn’t disappoint. The battle between two top ten teams, and Big Ten rivals, ended with a single point deciding the outcome. It was close enough that a Penn State two point conversion in the fourth quarter could have changed the result entirely, sending it to overtime instead of forcing the Nittany Lions to drive down the field and score on their last possession… Something that they fell short in doing.

The game was, of course, the yearly White Out for Penn State. College Gameday was there, too. As a result, the mood around Happy Valley was completely focused on the game. It was a sensation that lasted from the early hours of the morning all the way to the game itself.

Want to see what the game day was like from the perspective of your average fan?

Check out this exclusive picture album below.

Ohio State Buckeyes: Penn State Game Is The First Real Test

Ohio State will have their first real test four weeks into the season, when they travel to play Penn State on the road, at night. Some teams played close games in their openers, others were challenged in weeks two and three as the season continued and more teams played the first games of their conference schedules. Ohio State, though, they’re a bit different.

It’s not that they haven’t played anyone good, but a good team isn’t always a challenging one. TCU was a good team. But they weren’t on the level of the Buckeyes. Sometimes, for a team like Ohio State, the true danger comes from not playing opponents that are the same caliber very often.

We’ve seen it happen before. Iowa going undefeated in the Big Ten West and then losing the conference title game to the winner of the east. Wisconsin losing to Ohio State last year in the conference title game, after running the table in the West. Believe it or not, it is possible to be too good.

That’s the reason why coaches aren’t automatically upset when they play a team close, even if that team is supposed to lose by a larger margin. While winning every game by big margins is nice for the fans, and inspires confidence, that confidence can be a double-edged sword. Play too well every week, and you can find yourself struggling once you go up against another team that’s on the same level.

And while Penn State is slightly below Ohio State in the rankings, they’re certainly on the same level. If Penn State pulled off the win, it wouldn’t be out of the question for them to trade places in the polls with the Buckeyes. They have advantages that other teams don’t, too. Ohio State had to play TCU in Texas, but TCU doesn’t have near the amount of fan support that Penn State does.

Playing at Beaver Stadium at night is something that you would expect from a late season matchup. Not one in week four. If you’re the visiting side, it’s not the game that you want as one of your first real challenges of the year. Because let’s face it. Oregon State, Rutgers, and Tulane were all warm up games. Even counting TCU as a quality opponent, the Buckeyes have at the most only faced a single team that’s anywhere close to their level.

Now, they have to go into an environment that is known as one of the best in college football. It comes only shortly after Urban Meyer returned as the head coach of the team, and while his absence didn’t have much of an impact, that wasn’t against teams like Penn State.

The point here isn’t that Ohio State is going to lose, or that they haven’t played anybody. It’s that they may be unprepared for a true test, while Penn State started the season out by almost being upset. Additionally, they turned relatively close games against Pittsburgh and Illinois into blowout victories. They’re no stranger to playing in close games like these, and they’ve come out on top in each one of these.

If Ohio State enters halftime, or even the fourth quarter, how will they react? That’s a question that’s hard to answer because they have less experience in those close games. But if the game is close, Penn State is closer to a sure thing. As much of a sure thing as you can have in a game like this, which will be decided by a small margin because of the two teams roughly being on the same level.

We don’t know yet if Ohio State will show up when it matters in a game like this. They may, they may not. But if there’s one distinct disadvantage that they have compared to Penn State? It’s that, while we can’t predict accurately how either side will perform, Ohio State has more unknowns.

And that’s why this isn’t just the biggest game of the season for them, it’s the game that will show us just how “for real” the Buckeyes really are.

Penn State Football: Before Ohio State, Nittany Lions Face Illinois

The Illinois game might be the one that Penn State fans are forgetting this season. It’s sandwiched in between the last out of conference game, which ended up being a blowout win, and the biggest home game of the season. The latter, of course, is the white out game against Ohio State.

Everyone in State College wants some revenge for how things turned out last year, and the game is even more anticipated because it’s happening early in the season. No need to wait until Halloween week, this time. Before that game, though, the Nittany Lions will travel to Illinois and will face the Fighting Illini in a night game.

The rundown on Illinois

It’s not that Illinois is expected to do much against Penn State, but Appalachian State wasn’t expected to either. It would be a mistake for the team to overlook this game, especially because PSU is the highest ranked team that Illinois should face this season.

For Penn State, this is a game to be moved past quickly, to get to one of the biggest ones of the season. For Illinois, this might be their only chance of the year to play on Fox Sports 1 in a Friday night game in front of their own fans. But while the occasion is a big one for the Illini, their on the field results haven’t been so great.

Freshman quarterback M.J. Rivers was thrown into the starting job without a lot of preparation, after the favorite for the starting job, Cam Thomas, left the team for personal reasons. Last week out, the opponent was USF and Illinois leaned more on their running backs than their passing game. Their defense also helped them out with a couple of interceptions,

That same defense also showed some weaknesses when they needed to hold a lead and keep USF from storming back to a win. A touchdown to the corner of the end zone put USF back in striking distance at the top of the fourth quarter, and things went downhill from there. It’s not that one touchdown stole the game away from Illinois, and it took a pretty good throw from former Alabama player Blake Barnett to make it happen, after all.

But after that, Illinois allowed a deep pass from Barnett following Randall St. Felix beating their man coverage. They managed to hold USF to just a field goal, but when the Bulls had the ball again, Barnett’s pass to Darnell Salomon wasn’t even contested. It was one of the most wide open touchdowns you’ll ever see, and if Illinois wants to have any hope of hanging with Penn State, they can’t let plays like that happen again.

The verdict is that, while Penn State can’t just look past this game and only think about the one against Ohio State, this Illinois team isn’t in the shape to pull off the upset on Friday night. They might make things momentarily interesting, but after Penn State dropped 63 points on Kent State, Illinois should fear their offense.

Blake Barnett gave them serious trouble, so it’s not a stretch to say that Trace McSorley might do the same thing. Not only that, but their running game will likely have less success against the PSU defense.

They left a clear weakness for Penn State to exploit with their performance against USF, and they can expect just that to happen. The main question is, will they keep things close and surprise everyone by playing well in front of a national audience?