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Pro Day Watch 3.0: Micah Parsons Headlines Next Group Of Prospects To Participate In New Combine Format

Micah_Parsons
In this Nov. 30, 2019, file photo, Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons (11) tackles Rutgers tight end Johnathan Lewis (11) in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game, in State College, Pa. Parsons was selected to The Associated Press preseason All-America first-team, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger, File)

The views and opinions expressed in this article do not reflect the opinion of the team.

General manager Martin Mayhew and executive vice president of football/player personnel Marty Hurney's first offseason with the Washington Football Team will be a little different than what they're used to.

The NFL cancelled the Scouting Combine in its original format, which normally takes place in Indianapolis, instead electing to place more emphasis on the college pro days spread across the country. Kansas was the first school to have its pro day March 5, but the remaining schools will be hosting league scouts leading up to the draft in late April. Here are the schools that will be having their pro days this week: (check out the full pro day schedule, HERE, as well as the full list of athletes to receive a combine invite, HERE.)

  • Air Force
  • Bowling Green
  • Colorado State
  • Florida State
  • Iowa
  • Missouri
  • Toledo
  • Alabama
  • Central Michigan
  • Iowa State
  • Nebraska
  • Purdue
  • Michigan State
  • Mississippi State
  • South Carolina
  • USC
  • Virginia
  • Georgia Southern
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • North Texas
  • Penn State
  • San Diego State
  • SMU
  • Tennessee
  • Western Michigan
  • Boston College
  • BYU
  • Michigan
  • South Dakota State
  • Virginia Tech

Each week, Washingtonfootball.com will be highlighting 10 players trying to impress scouts and improve their draft stock. The third batch of pro days feature some of the best prospects in the country, led by Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons, who is widely regarded one of the best linebackers available.

(NOTE: Position rankings courtesy of The Draft Network)

Micah Parsons (Position rank: 1st)

Parsons opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns, giving others like Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Baron Browning and Zaven Collins the opportunity to prove they are the best linebackers in this year's class. And yet, The Draft Network ranks Parsons ahead of all of them, which says a lot about how dominant he can be.

The last time Parsons was on the field, he was hailed as an All-American by numerous outlets, namely the Associated Press, USA Today and Sports Illustrated. He was the first sophomore in Big Ten history to win the Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year award, and for good reason; he had 105 tackles (14 for a loss), five sacks and five passes defensed. That kind of production prompted Pro Football Focus to proclaim him as the best linebacker prospect since Luke Kuechly.

"Parsons has ideal size, athleticism and production for a linebacker prospect, and he was only a sophomore last season," writes PFF's Michael Renner. "If he could have declared for the 2020 NFL Draft, the chances are he would have been selected before Isaiah Simmons."

Washington could still address the linebacker position this offseason, but having a player like Parsons would certainly upgrade the position. He can play on the outside and inside, so he already has the position flexibility to produce in Washington's defense. And according to his NFL.com draft profile, he could play sooner rather than later.

"He's most impactful when he's kept clean and allowed to run and chase the action, but carries no physical limitations into the pros," draft analyst Lance Zierlein wrote. "His rush talent is a potential wild card in how teams decide to use him, but he's likely to show rapid improvement and should be a Day 1 starter."

Here are some other players to keep an eye on throughout the week:

Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech (Position rank: 2nd)

Christian Darrisaw is a popular player mocked to Washington among analysts. He would certainly fulfill a need and give a solid answer to the team's question at left tackle. Whether it is pass-blocking -- he allowed just six pressures and zero sacks on 293 pass plays -- or run-blocking -- he was PFF's highest-graded offensive tackle in that category -- Darrisaw is ready for the professional ranks. PFF's scouting report of Darrisaw also describes him as "uniquely capable of moving men against their will."

Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss (Position rank: 11th)

Elijah Moore is somewhat overlooked because of the other receivers in his class, but the Florida native put together an impressive 2020 season with 1,193 yards and eight touchdowns. He was a consensus All-American according to numerous outlets and grabbed a school record 86 receptions. He has room for improvement with his catch radius and may need to work on the breaks in his routes, but he could develop into a reliable slot target.

Daviyon Nixon, DT, Iowa (Position rank: 4th)

Standing at 6-foot-3 and weighing 305 pounds, Daviyon Nixon is not the biggest interior defensive lineman, but he is one of the most productive with 13 tackles for a loss, which led the Big Ten. He is also one of the most athletic; he had a 71-yard interception for a touchdown against Penn State. He only started nine games at Iowa, though, which ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. lists as a concern. Kiper believes he is a third-round pick, but perhaps a solid pro day could elevate him into the second round or even the first.

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina (Position rank: 3rd)

Most quarterbacks trying to pass in Jaycee Horn's direction were met with little success the past three seasons. He only has two interceptions in his college career, but broke up 23 passes and earned multiple All-SEC honors. Horn was the third cornerback taken in Kiper's most-recent mock draft behind Alabama's Patrick Surtain II and Virginia Tech's Caleb Farley. Analysts point to Horn's physical man pressure as a strength and believe he could offer immediate starting help, according to Zierlein.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama (Position rank: 1st)

Another player who has been mocked to Washington, Jaylen Waddle is one of the biggest stars of this year's wide receiver class. He owns three of Alabama's five longest scoring receptions in program history, and quarterbacks have a perfect passer rating when targeting him in the slot since 2019, according to PFF. And despite suffering what was called a season-ending ankle injury by head coach Nick Saban against Tennessee, he still played in the College Football Playoff National Championship. Even though Washington signed Curtis Samuel, it could still add to the position, and having Waddle would be yet another speedy pass-catcher in Washington's arsenal. With fellow receiver DeVonta Smith not participating in Alabama's pro day, Waddle will have more opportunities to improve his draft stock.

Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue (Position rank: 7th)

Rondale Moore's season was a little tumultuous since he originally opted out of the 2020 season and then opted back in, but he is still regarded as an above average slot receiver. The last time he played in more than four games in a season, he had 114 receptions for 1,258 yards and 12 touchdowns. Although those numbers came two seasons ago, analysts like Zierlein believe he could develop into a starter with more experience.

Zach Wilson, QB, BYU (Position rank: 3rd)

Zach Wilson experienced a steep rise in notoriety after an impressive junior season with nearly 3,700 yards, 33 touchdowns and just three interceptions. After watching film from Joe Burrow's senior year, Wilson drastically increased his accuracy from 62.4% the year before to 73.5% in 2020. BYU's passing game coordinator Fesi Sitake called it a "Joe Burrow-esque leap," he believes was fueled by a deep passion for the game.

Hamsah Nasirildeen, S, Florida State (Position rank: 4th)

Hamsah Nasirildeen only played in two games last season because of a torn ligament in 2019, but his stats in the previous two seasons were impressive with 202 tackles, five passes defended and three interceptions. His last bit of action was in the Senior Bowl, and he drew praise from analysts for his toughness and coverage skills. Nasirildeen also has some experience playing linebacker, so it is possible he could fit into Washington's "buffalo nickel" position where Kamren Curl spent some time during his rookie season.

Mac Jones, QB, Alabama (Position rank: 5th)

One of two Heisman Trophy candidates from Alabama in 2020, Mac Jones put forth a stellar junior season after waiting behind Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa. His 4,500 passing yards were first among FBS schools, while his 41 touchdowns were second. He is not known for being a mobile quarterback, but he knows how to avoid pressure in the pocket and set a FBS record for single-season completion rate (77.4%). Jones is widely expected to be a first-round talent, but a strong pro day could give him a bump over his fellow signal-callers in this year's class.

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