Though the Las Vegas Raiders‘ need at linebacker isn’t as glaring as it once was, there’s one play that is likely to catch their eye. Micah Parsons out of Penn State is everything the team has needed for years. He’s a playmaker who excels against the run, can cover and rush the passer.
It once seemed impossible that he’d fall all the way down to No. 17 in the first round of the NFL Draft, but due to a likely run of quarterbacks, wide receivers and offensive linemen, the Raiders may have the opportunity to land a serious steal. Parsons recently revealed to Heavy.com that he’s already spoken with head coach Jon Gruden. The linebacker also gave his thoughts on the coach.
“I think he’s hard-nosed. I think he’s a coach that knows what he wants,” Parsons said in a phone call Monday. “Very disciplined, very structured coach and I think those are the types of coaches I like playing for.”
Gruden has been clear about wanting an alpha personality on his defense. Parsons would certainly bring that in spades. He believes that he could be a missing piece that helps get the Raiders’ defense over the hump.
“I think any team would be an unbelievable opportunity, but with the Raiders, I’d come in ready to go,” Parsons said. “I think they’re a great organization and they’re heading into the right direction. Missing a couple of pieces, I think I can be one of the pieces that can fill a lot of those gaps that they’re looking for. As you said, I can cover, I can pass rush, I can play sideline to sideline so I feel like I could cover multiple gaps they have on the defense and just ready to get to work and compete.”
Should he somehow fall to No. 17, it’s hard to imagine the Raiders passing up on the opportunity to land a possible difference-maker on defense.
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Parsons Addresses Possibility of Playing in Las Vegas
With the recent move to Las Vegas, the Raiders have to be a lot more careful than other teams when it comes to drafting players. The city is full of vices and that could be tough for some young players. Parsons doesn’t believe he’s among the players who will have an issue in Sin City.
“While Vegas is challenging, at the end of the day, I’m coming there for football,” Parsons said. “To play in that stadium, represent that black and silver is what I’m focused on. That’s why there’s offseasons. I get there, I’m focused on ball and try to win games and get to the Super Bowl. I think that’s my main priorities and taking care of my family. Everything else is gonna come after.”
Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock have made it a point to add players they believe won’t have issues in Las Vegas. If they believe Parsons checks out, then that shouldn’t be a deterrent for them.
Discipline, sacrifice & leadership are all military qualities that I have inherited from my military family. Thank you to @USAA for allowing me to honor them and their service before I start my @NFL career with this week’s #NFLDraft. #SaluteToService #USAApartner pic.twitter.com/JwuIb4dRoW
— Micah Parsons (@MicahhParsons11) April 26, 2021
Parsons Believes That Opting out of Last Season Won’t Be an Issue
One big thing that has been a talking point amongst rookies this year is the opt-out factor. Due to COVID-19, many college players decided to not play last season. Mike Mayock recently came out and specifically cited the Big Ten as a conference that he wasn’t concerned if players opted out. For a while, it didn’t look like Big Ten football was going to be played so players already got the ball rolling on getting ready for the NFL. Parsons played in the Big Ten so he doesn’t believe that coaches have an issue with him not playing last year.
“Teams that get it completely understand and there really wasn’t a problem … so I’m not really worried about it, they weren’t too worried about it,” Parson said.
If Parsons does slide in the draft, it likely doesn’t have to do with the fact that he didn’t play last year. The Raiders need a true playmaker on defense and they should be giving him a serious look.