The Las Vegas Raiders have to get faster on defense this offseason. With new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley now in charge, look for him to prioritize speed in a big way.
One of the fastest and most athletic players in the 2021 draft is Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons. At 245 pounds, Parsons is expected to run in the low 4.4s at his Pro Day. That would be on par with what we saw from Devin White in 2019 and Isaiah Simmons in 2020.
On top of his rare speed, Parsons is an aggressive playmaker who does his best work near the line of scrimmage. While he is a bit new to the position, his size, range and playmaking ability are what make him a special prospect.
In a recent mock draft by Joe Marino of The Draft Network, he had the Raiders selecting Parsons with the No. 17 pick in the 2021 draft. Here are his thoughts on the potential pairing:
“After failing to maximize free-agent spending and draft picks, the Raiders’ roster is littered with holes—which is quite disheartening entering Jon Gruden’s fourth offseason in his second stint with the organization. While Las Vegas has shown gradual improvements on the field, getting over the hump will require better choices when it comes to roster construction. A linebacker of Parsons’ caliber with his blend of size, athleticism, versatility, and playmaking ability would be a good choice.”
With the Raiders recently restricting the contracts of Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski, picking a linebacker at No. 17 suddenly isn’t all that likely. Both players are under contract in 2021 and 2022 with cap numbers that continue to rise. That likely means both players will be here for the next two years barring some unforeseen circumstances.
Parsons would be a bit of a luxury pick for the Raiders, but he is a unique talent. But instead, look for the Raiders to use their first pick on a defensive lineman, such as Christian Barmore or Gregory Rousseau.