Is Micah Parsons the tool needed to improve the Lions defense?

Micah Parsons, Penn State (Photo by Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images)
Micah Parsons, Penn State (Photo by Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Lions will be searching to completely ‘retool’ their defensive selections for the 2021 season in hopes of reversing the woes of a team that finished dead last in the league in total yards conceded to opponents (6,716). With gaping holes on the defensive line, the Lions completed the year 28th in rushing yards granted to opponents (2,158), while giving up the most rushing touchdowns of all teams with 27 allowed.

Over the top, the Lions secondary did not perform any better than the men in the trenches. Conceding 4,558 passing yards in the 2020 season to opposing quarterbacks, which was good enough for 30th place amongst all 32 teams.

The Lions added to their dreadful defensive performances by relinquishing the most touchdowns of all teams to opposing pass throwers with 38 passing touchdowns permitted by the defense. A recipe for disaster to say the least.

The numbers don’t lie. There is much opportunity for the Lions to improve, and the bulk of it lies on the defensive side of the ball. With an upcoming receding salary cap, the Lions front office executives are looking to build their roster around youthful assets in the draft which was evident when general manager Brad Holmes secured three future draft picks in the Matthew Stafford trade saga.

Some analysts are predicting that the Lions will use their upcoming seventh pick in the 2021 NFL Draft on an offensive weapon, such as the likes of Ja’Marr Chase, to help kick-start a new era in Detroit.

While that does seem like a truly beneficial option for the team to move towards considering the potential departure of its three top wideouts, let’s assume they instead opt to use their first-round selection on a defensive college stand-out to help remedy their defensive complications. Who may be the most enticing prospect in this year’s draft pool?

Enter Micah Parsons. The 6-foot-3, 245-pound linebacker from Penn State is one of the most decorated college candidates in the 2021 draft class. Coming into college landing as a freshman All-American selection in 2018, Parsons followed up his stellar defensive performances that year by panelists awarding him a spot as a consensus first-team All-American the ensuing season in 2019.

Being considered as the top linebacker in the Big Ten conference, Parsons was awarded the Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year title recording 109 tackles, 5.0 sacks, and three forced fumbles in the process. He drew headlines before the 2019 Cotton Bowl Classic game between Penn State and Memphis by predicting that he would be named the defensive player of the game.

In a commanding performance, Parsons talked the talk and walked the walk by finishing the game with 14 tackles, three tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, and two forced fumbles. That outing earning him the McKnight Trophy as the game’s most outstanding defensive player.

As an opt-out of the 2020 college football season due to COVID-19 concerns, Parsons is a rejuvenated, healthy defensive weapon that a team can use to improve both their run-defense and pass-coverage. Fellow teammates have dubbed him as one of the “best blitzers” they’ve encountered, with analysts believing he has the versatility to be a top-level performer in the league due to his ability to play competitively both inside and outside at the linebacker position.

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It comes as no surprise that incoming defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn has his work cut out for him in hopes of turning around one of the league’s worst defensive corps. Bringing in a physical, imposing defensive presence like Micah Parsons would present the Detroit Lions with the boost they need to become a feared defense as opposed to the easily exploited one we’ve come to witness well too often.