Regarded as one of the best defensive players in the 2021 NFL Draft, Penn State’s Micah Parsons should be on the radar for any team looking to bolster their linebacking core.
Parson opted out of the 2020 college football season due to COVID-19, but that hasn’t changed scouts’ thoughts on him. After earning a freshman All-American selection in 2018, Parsons followed that up with first-team All-American performance last season. He was responsible for 109 tackles (14 for a loss) with five sacks, five pass breakups, and four forced fumbles.
Standing at 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds, he’s got a freakish build, in addition to explosive speed. He was an edge rusher in high school before transitioning to inside linebacker at Penn State, so has the capability to play both inside and outside, but he’s groomed and proven his excellence in the middle.
Parsons is as solid of a tackler as you will find, with an uncanny ability to read developing plays on offense. He surely will be one of the first defensive players off the board in this year’s draft.
So, here are four ideal landing spots for LB Micah Parsons in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Linebacker, safety, cornerback, defensive tackle … I’m not sure the Lions could go wrong with going with any position on defense with their first pick.
But linebacker stands out the most. Besides average production from veteran Jamie Collins and Reggie Ragland, the linebacker core has been full of underwhelming performances. Now-former GM Bob Quinn took big swing-and-misses with drafting Jahlani Tavai in the second round in 2019 and Jarrad Davis, a first-round pick in 2017 who will be a free agent this offseason and is sure to not be brought back.
Along with Davis, Ragland is set to be a free agent. The Lions are setting up to have a massive overhaul, with a new GM and head coach. It all should start with the defense, which has been one of the worst units despite bringing in defensive-minded Matt Patricia for the past two and a half seasons.
The Lions defensively rank last in pass touchdowns, rush touchdowns, red-zone touchdowns, points and 1st-downs. They’re second-to-last in yards allowed. It probably make sense for one of the worst defensive teams to draft one of the best defensive players in the draft.
The Dolphins have the benefit of owning the Houston Texans first-round pick in this draft. So despite being on the verge of making the playoffs, with the Texans’ struggles this season, Miami will own a top-five pick.
The Dolphins brought in Elandon Roberts and Kyle Van Noy this offseason, as well as Kamu Grugier-Hill. But both Krugier-HIll and Roberts will be free agents, meaning two options to fill in the inside linebacker role may not be back to pair alongside Jerome Baker.
Baker is a tackle machine, racking up 108 so far this season, but isn’t necessarily a threat in the pass-rush game. Pairing Parsons with Baker on the inside, who excels in shooting gaps and rushing passers, makes a lot of sense. Miami had hoped that Raekwon McMillan would fill that role, but the second-round draft pick from 2017 was shipped out to Vegas earlier this season.
The Dolphins’ defense has one of, if not, the best defense in the league this season and bringing in Micah Parsons in through the 2021 NFL Draft could make it even deadlier. With two first round picks this draft, the Dolphins can afford to take Parsons so early and address another need later in the round.
New York Giants
The Giants own one of the best tacklers in the league in Blake Martinez. But outside of him, the rest of their linebackers are fairly bleak.
The trio of Tae Crowder, David Mayo, and Devante Downs have made up the rest of the snaps for interior linebackers. But while Martinez has racked up an impressive 140 tackles (tied-3rd most in the league), the other three have combined for just over 100 tackles.
Bringing in Parsons would allow them to blitz more, a tactic that they haven’t utilized often since coming to New York. After having the seventh-highest frequency of blitzes in Miami in 2019, the Giants are in the bottom half of the league in blitz frequency.
While the Giants will have all of their interior linebackers returning next season, no one outside of Martinez should get playing time over someone like Parsons. A duo of Martinez and Parsons could make for one of the best interior linebacker pairs in the league.
The Denver Broncos are facing a ton of decisions defensively, and with veteran talent possibly out the door, it’s time for that unit to get younger in the NFL Draft.
After going heavy on the offense in last year’s draft, it makes sense that they would look to the other side of the line of scrimmage in the first round this year. Especially looking for someone who can help in the run defense, as Denver ranks 26th in rushing yards and 27th in rushing touchdowns. Also, the measly 12 takeaways, which ranks third-to-last, is an eyesore as well.
At inside linebacker, Denver has enjoyed a suprisng successful season out of impending free agent A.J. Johnson and Josey Jewell, who both have over 100 tackles this season. But if Johnson hits the market and goes elsewhere, that could leave a hole alongside Jewell.
Now the success of the two could be credited with defensive genius Vic Fangio at the helm. But Fangio’s future in Denver is up in the air. It would bode Denver well to get a bonafide player at the position like Micah Parsons instead of gambling on Jewell and/or Johnson to repeat their surprise success from this season.