The Detroit Lions are in the midst of an overhaul at the linebacker position and have already several moves this offseason, including restructuring Jamie Collins’ contract, signing Alex Anzalone, and re-signing Jalen Reeves-Maybin. But they don’t appear done adding athletes to the position and could sign or draft one or two more players—especially considering Anzalone and Reeves-Maybin are on one-year deals.
There are several intriguing athletic linebackers in this draft class but Penn State’s Micah Parsons is considered at the top of the list and many are projecting him to be selected in the top-10, possibly even to the Lions.
Parsons participated in Penn State’s pro day today, and as most expected, he showed off his unique athleticism. Here’s a look at his impressive unofficial RAS based on the numbers coming out of today’s event:
Micah Parsons is a LB prospect in the 2021 draft class. He scored a 9.78 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 48 out of 2103 LB from 1987 to 2021.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 25, 2021
Updated as I had his broad mixed up with Oweh (not that it dropped him much).https://t.co/dKkx5L2ZTQ #RAS pic.twitter.com/eFheUqC1gH
If you’re a more visual learner, here’s a clip of his 4.39 second 40 yards dash:
After the on-field drills, Parsons took part in Zoom sessions with the media and several Lions beat writers were in attendance. The big takeaway from that Zoom session: Parsons has talked with the Lions “a couple of times”, including at today's event.
As a potential top-10 prospect and with the Lions holding pick No. 7 in the upcoming draft, this should be no surprise. But it does raise a question: Is this just due diligence on the Lions part or are they truly interested?
This a question that is being debated amongst Lions fans on a daily basis (I have the Twitter timeline to prove it), but there’s no clear answer to the question.
Parson’s offers a lot of positive traits: elite athleticism, positional versatility (he’s a former defensive end who has the range to cover the slot), is likely the best defensive player in the draft, and he has a skill set that could make him a foundational piece to build around.
But there are also glaring negatives as well: Parson’s has an ugly off the field incident in his past that needs vetting, he hasn’t played football in nearly a year and a half after opting out of the 2020 season, off-the-ball players typically aren’t considered high-value returns on investment this high in the draft, Lions’ general manager Brad Holmes has a history of discovering athletic linebackers later in the draft (which this class has), and as impressive as his pro day was today, it’s important not to count it twice in his evaluation because it was expected based on his game tape.
The Lions’ intentions surrounding Parsons are unclear—that’s probably by design—and while a couple of things were confirmed at today’s pro day, I’m not sure much has changed overall. He is probably being considered by the Lions at No. 7 but there are also several highly-talented offensive players who are also competing for that spot.