It’s no secret the Detroit Lions had their eye on linebacker Micah Parsons in the 2021 NFL draft. The Lions had—and still have—a big need at linebacker, and the Dallas Cowboys rookie proved this season that he has the potential to be an every-week game changer.
But how close were the Lions to actually drafting him? Well, according to Parsons, pretty darn close.
Parsons recently appeared on The Pivot podcast with hosts Ryan Clark (former Steelers’ corner and current ESPN NFL analyst), Fred Taylor (former Jaguars’ running back), and Channing Crowder (former Dolphins’ linebacker) and he shared that at his Pro Day, the Lions told him he would be their pick at No. 7 if things fell the right way.
“I remember, at the Pro Day, the Lions was like, ‘Man, if you on the clock, we taking you,’” Parsons told the group. “So, I was like, ‘Man, I could be a Lion right now.’”
It’s worth noting that Penn State’s Pro Day was a full month before the NFL draft and Parson’s would go on to admit that the Lions weren’t the only team whispering that same message to him. Parsons acknowledged that the Denver Broncos (pick No. 9) then-head coach Vic Fangio “really loved” him as a MIKE linebacker, and the New York Giants said that if he landed at No. 11, he was “for sure coming to us.”
Landing with the Lions would have stylistically been a great fit if the draft had fallen a specific way. But in the end, Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell was available at pick No. 7, and the Lions were able to land him, a move even Parsons acknowledged as making “a lot of sense”.
“So, days before the draft, word got out that the Bengals were going to take Ja’Marr (Chase) instead of Penei (Sewell). So the Lions was like, ‘If Penei is here, he could be a generational lineman.’ So, you gotta take him to protect the quarterback, which makes a lot of sense, because linemen have a lot more value than linebacker if you only playing one position.”
Because teams often tell potential draft picks a lot of flattering things, it’s hard to tell how much truth there is to the story, but it wouldn’t be surprising if it held water. Would it have been nice to land such an impactful defensive player? Absolutely. But the Lions probably made the right choice. Heck, even Parsons thinks so.
You can watch the entire podcast below or on YouTube, with the section on the Lions showing up just before the six-minute mark: