Possessing the seventh overall selection in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions will have several options to forge the direction of this team which is under new leadership. Will new general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell elect to look to address their offensive or defensive needs with their “first” first-round selection in the Motor City?
Offensively, the Lions’ biggest need is undoubtedly at receiver. Last year’s wide receiver corps appeared to be one of the league’s best consisting of Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr., and Danny Amendola. Currently, Detroit’s new wide receiver corps includes Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman, Damion Ratley, and Kalif Raymond.
Pro Football Focus is already calling this unit potentially the worst wide receiver group in the NFL. Obviously, using their high first-round pick on someone like LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase, Alabama’s Devonta Smith, or Florida’s Kyle Pitts would change that perception.
While the position of receiver is a major need in Detroit, arguments can be made that offensive tackle and quarterback are also viable options at No. 7 as well. Defensively, it appears there’s really only one option for the Lions. And he might very well be the favorite to land in Motown.
We’re, of course, talking about Micah Parsons, the Penn State linebacker that just wowed onlookers at this pro day. At 6-foot-3 and 246 pounds, Parsons ran a blazing 4.39 40-yard dash. Throw in a 34-inch vertical plus 19 reps at 225 on the bench press and he’s all but cemented himself as the top defensive prospect in this draft class.
Parsons might also be the desired top choice for Detroit. According to Chris Burke of The Athletic, Campbell previously said his goal for this season was to find guys who could be the “core foundation.” And the examples he used were all former linebackers: Luke Kuechly of the Carolina Panthers plus Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs of the Chicago Bears.
In an interview following his pro day, Parsons confirmed he’s spoken to the Lions and to Campbell directly a couple of times. Here’s what he told SI All Lions on Thursday.
“I spoke with the [Lions] coach again today. We had a great conversation. Honestly, I would be blessed to really go anywhere, but obviously playing on a team with Chris Spielman — someone who could enhance my game — would be terrific for me. Someone who I could learn and grow and push me to get better every day. That’s all I need.”
Opting out in 2020, Parsons was a beast for the Nittany Lions two years ago, racking up 109 total tackles, 14.0 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks, five pass deflections, and four forced fumbles in 13 games. He’s projected to be a force both as a run defender and in pass coverage plus he possesses exceptional pass-rushing skills.
But Parsons will enter April’s draft with some off-the-field concerns as alleged character issues have reportedly been brought up that could impact his draft status. So much so that Parsons himself addressed those concerns with the media following his pro day as well.
Undoubtedly, the Detroit Lions will do their due diligence when it comes to Micah Parsons. But there’s unlikely no single prospect in the upcoming NFL draft that embodies the idea of grit and a kneecap-biting attitude more than Parsons. And his selection should give the Lions that core foundational piece they desire to build their defense upon for years to come.