The NFL Draft is under 10 days away. Teams are visiting college prospects, experts are releasing mock drafts, and fans are getting hyped. The whole football world is chaos and excitement in the days leading up to the draft. Today, I want to go in-depth on a specific college prospect: LB Micah Parsons of Penn State. Countless mock drafts have suggested that the most likely draft choice from the Broncos will be Parsons. However, taking Parsons with the 9th overall pick is a bad idea. This may come as a surprise to you. Don’t the experts know the most? Parsons is a projected top 15 pick, why wouldn’t Denver select him? Let’s dive in.
Overview of Micah Parsons
Micah Parsons is a linebacker out of Penn State. He caused some stir after he opted out of the 2020 college football season but he had a phenomenal sophomore year. He totaled 109 tackles with a side of 5 sacks. There is no debate that his tackling skills are off the charts. He played alongside other great defensive athletes at Penn State that include edge rusher Jayson Oweh, edge rusher Shaka Toney, and safety Lamont Wade. Playing in a conference that consists of offensive phenoms such as Justin Fields, Rashod Bateman, Trey Sermon, Rashawn Slater, among many others, and having multiple top defensive prospects is quite impressive for that Penn State defense. Parsons has lots of upside, which is why he is widely viewed as a perfect selection for Denver. However, his upside is what blinds many and hides his many issues both on and off the field.
Does Micah Parsons Fit With Denver?
The simple answer to this question is no. He does not fit the criteria that the Broncos are looking for. The current linebacker room for the Broncos consists of veteran Alexander Johnson, underrated Josey Jewell, previously injured Justin Strnad, and depth player Joe Jones. It is clear that the linebacker room needs some improvement, which is why it is listed as the number 1 positional need for the Broncos by almost every analyst or mock draft simulator. There is truth to that statement. Johnson is in his 30s, Joe Jones may not be with the Broncos next year, and Strnad is coming off of an injury. Although he is showing great potential, Josey Jewell might not be ready for the starting role quite yet. Give it time and he will be, but for now, the Broncos need to draft a linebacker early in the draft (1st or 2nd round). Well, if Denver needs a linebacker and Micah Parsons is the best linebacker out there, shouldn’t they just draft him and call it a day? The answer is no. As it was mentioned before, Parsons does not fit what Denver is looking for. He exceeds in tackling and rushing abilities. However, the entirety of Denver’s linebacker room are linebackers that exceed in tackling and rushing abilities. If you break it down to the simplest it can be, he would essentially be like a younger Alexander Johnson. Denver is looking for a linebacker that exceeds in coverage, which is something that they do not currently have. Micah Parsons is not a coverage linebacker to put it plain and simple for you. If you watch his film, you will see that he’s fast, athletic, and rarely misses a tackle. However, you will also witness him losing his man across the middle of the field or misreading a cut. He’s obviously shown that he’s not a coverage linebacker, which means he is the opposite of what the Broncos are searching for. The AFC West, the division that the Broncos are a part of, consists of some elite tight ends. Those include Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, and Jared Cook. If Parsons were with Denver, his role would consist of covering those tight ends. Based on his film, he probably wouldn’t have an enjoyable time with that task.
Parsons’ Off Field Issues
Off-field issues have been a major headline when talking about Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons. He has been involved in altercations with teammates or opponents, it was reported that he has harassed teammates, and some players said that he was an annoyance in the locker room. Time and time again, off-field struggles have proven to be consequential for NFL players. Let’s look at a few examples. Former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was cut from the team and later never played football after security footage showed him punching his girlfriend in the face. Former NFL wide receiver Josh Gordon is currently out of the league and in the Fan Controlled Football League due to constant substance abuse. More specific to Parsons’ situation, future Hall of Famer Antonio Brown was cut by the Raiders just months after he signed with them due to locker room issues and complaints from teammates. It is evident that throughout recent years, off-field struggles breed consequences. The Broncos don’t need that kind of environment in their locker room which is another reason why they should not draft Micah Parsons.
If The Broncos Don’t Draft Parsons, What Linebacker Should They Draft?
I mentioned earlier that the Broncos needed to use one of their early-round picks on a linebacker. If that linebacker isn’t Parsons, then who is it? Let’s explore some options. It was reported that the Broncos received calls from other teams that want to move up to the 9th pick in the NFL Draft. If a trade pans out and Broncos GM George Paton pulls the trigger, the Broncos could have a draft pick in the late teens or early twenties, which is where the 1st-round coverage linebackers are. A very intriguing option for the Broncos is Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. He is a linebacker-safety hybrid that exceeds in coverage abilities. He may not be the best scheme fit but at least he is fitting the playstyle criteria that Denver is looking for. Another trade back option could be Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins. He has better coverage abilities than Micah Parsons and would surely be a benefit to the linebacker room. Wait, what if the Broncos don’t trade back and they stay at 9 or trade up? There has been lots of buzz about the Broncos going quarterback in the 1st round. In that scenario, linebacker would most likely be the 2nd round pick if the 40th pick in the draft is not included in a trade. One of my favorite linebacker prospects in the draft comes with a 2nd round grade: LSU linebacker Jabril Cox. If Denver were to draft Cox, it would be a huge benefit. Watching Cox, you can clearly see the abilities that he brings to the table. Those abilities are the ones that Denver wants. Another 2nd round linebacker is Jamin Davis from Kentucky. He plays similarly to Cox and has a similar grading. The two are interchangeable and either one would be an amazing 2nd round pickup for the Broncos. The thing with the linebacker prospects mentioned above is that they are all benefits. When drafting a player, they should benefit your squad. With Micah Parsons, I do not really see him as a benefit which is why the Broncos should not draft him with the 9th pick or any other pick in the upcoming draft.