Micah Parsons, once known as one of the best off-ball linebackers in the NFL, has now transitioned to become one of the league's top edge rushers. Parsons made his NFL debut in 2021 and quickly made a name for himself, becoming the fourth rookie linebacker since the merger to earn First-Team All-Pro honors. The elite company he joins includes legends such as Lawrence Taylor, Patrick Willis, and Shaquille Leonard. While Parsons respects all of them, he holds a special admiration for Leonard, who is still an active player.
Similar to Parsons, Leonard is widely regarded as one of the best defenders and overall players in the entire football landscape. He underwent two back surgeries within a year, severely limiting his playing time to just 74 snaps across three games. As a result, many people have forgotten just how talented he truly is.
But Parsons is determined to remind everyone. Recently, Madden 24 released its linebacker ratings, and Leonard received an overall rating of 86, tying him for the ninth-best off-ball linebacker in the game. This ranking clearly did not sit well with Micah Parsons, as he took to Instagram to comment, "There are not 8 linebackers better than Leonard! Idc."
Parsons' statement highlights a crucial truth - great players recognize greatness in others. And he is absolutely correct in his assessment. There simply aren't eight linebackers better than Shaquille Leonard when he is healthy. In fact, he can arguably be considered the best linebacker in football. However, it is important to acknowledge that the rankings for Madden and other lists might not accurately reflect Leonard's true abilities due to his injury-riddled year.
Leonard's position on these lists is more a reflection of his health rather than his skills. As the 2023 season approaches, he will have the opportunity to remind everyone of his greatness. With the Colts' training camp set to begin on Tuesday, we will soon have a better understanding of Leonard's current health status.
If Leonard manages to stay healthy and play throughout the entirety of the 2023 season, he will undoubtedly prove Micah Parsons right. He will demonstrate that there truly aren't eight linebackers better than him. So, let's keep an eye on Leonard as he aims to reclaim his position among the NFL's elite linebackers.