Raiders Draft Spotlight: Penn State Linebacker Micah Parsons

While the Las Vegas Raiders poured a lot of resources into the linebacker position last offseason, the defense still lacks star power. Luckily for them, there’s a real chance an elite defensive prospect falls to them at pick 17.  While he comes with some large question marks, Penn State’s Micah Parsons could totally change the Las Vegas defense.

Parsons elected to opt-out of the 2020 season but showed plenty in 2019. The first thing you notice about him on tape is how well he moves. He is incredibly fast, he ran a 4.39 40-yard dash at Penn State’s Pro Day and moves fluidly in all aspects. Parsons is also a former pass rusher and it shows in his blitzing ability, he recorded five sacks in his 2019 season. A truly special talent, his overall athletic ability allows him to make plays most linebackers can not.

Micah Parsons would instantly upgrade the Raiders’ defense

Parsons is still relatively new to the linebacker position. While this shows up in his blitzing prowess it also shows up in his mental processing. He simply has not seen a lot of football through the eyes of a linebacker and needs to get fully acquainted with the position.

On the bright side, he is such a fantastic athlete that he is able to recover in most of these instances. These are not massive flaws as he can overcome these with practice and coaching. Certainly, wish we could have seen him play this season if only to gain the experience.

The only reason the Raiders will even have a chance at a player of Parsons caliber is due to off-the-field issues. While at Penn State, he was cited in a hazing incident that included now Panthers defensive lineman Yetur Gross-Matos. These allegations include many disturbing details, many of them sexual. In the end, Parsons wasn’t charged with a crime. While it is a murky situation, this could be the main reason why Parsons ultimately slides off the top ten.

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How does he fit the Raiders?

While the Raiders have Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski, they do have a slight hole at the third spot. Nicholas Morrow is a solid starter but Parsons would be an instant upgrade. The Penn State product would come in and instantly be the best strong side ‘backer on the team. Playing him and Littleton on the outside and Kwiatkowski in the middle gives the Raiders three solid starters while also improving the depth.

While it is somewhat of a long shot, many mock drafts do have Parsons taking a steep fall. At times, even all the way out of the top 20. Simply put, the Raiders cannot afford to pass on him if he reaches them at pick seventeen. Since the trade of Khalil Mack, the Raiders have not had a star player on the defensive side of the ball. Micah Parsons would not only change that, but he would also make everyone else’s jobs easier. A truly special player, the Raiders should run the name to the podium if they have the opportunity.

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TOP PHOTO:  Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

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