By CBS3 Staff

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (CBS) — Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons is one of the best defensive players in the 2021 NFL Draft class, but some football experts are saying he’s slipping in the rankings. The Harrisburg native was initially expected to be selected high in the first round Thursday night, but recent speculation over his character has some experts dropping him to the end of the first round.

NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein has him slipping to the No. 29 overall pick because of “character concerns,” but he also says Parsons will be hard to pass on “with his high-impact potential.” The character speculation links back to a 2020 ESPN report where a former player alleged head coach James Franklin told him not to report a physical fight that broke out with Parsons involving punches, choking and a knife being pulled to police in 2018.

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But in a recent interview with CBS Sports, Parsons said he is not worried about if he falls in the first round or not.

“You know, the more I think about it, it really wouldn’t faze me,” Parsons said. “Just to even get drafted is an amazing honor and will be an unbelievable feeling for me regardless of where I go or where I was selected. Just to be known as one of the best football players in the world and being able to go up to the NFL, one of the greatest organizations in America, it’s just an extreme honor for me and my family.”

Other NFL experts believe Parsons is a lock to be drafted earlier in the first round.

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Parsons became the first freshman in program history to lead Penn State in tackles in a season with 83, Penn State’s website says. In his sophomore season, he recorded 109 total tackles, 14  for loss and five sacks to go along with five passes defended and four forced fumbles earning him the Butkus-Fitzgerald linebacker of the year award and a consensus All-American and First Team All-Big Ten, according to CBSSports.com. He opted out of the 2020 season due to the pandemic.

He wants NFL teams to know he is going to come in and work hard.

“I want them to know that I’m a person that is going to come in and work your butt off every day, come in with the right mindset, challenge to be a star, challenge to be an All-Pro player and hopefully one day I hope to gain their impression as someone who is going to push everyone and really, really try to change the culture, win games and win Super Bowls,” Micah Parsons reports. “That’s what it’s all about.”

Another Penn State football player to keep your eye on during Thursday’s draft is defensive end Jayson Oweh.

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The 2021 NFL Draft begins Thursday at 8 p.m.