When it comes to evaluating prospects, there’s hardly anyone in the scouting community more respected than Daniel Jeremiah. Often referred to by his nickname ‘DJ’ as an analyst and writer with NFL.com, Jeremiah was previously a college scout for the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, and Philadelphia Eagles.
The 2021 NFL draft is less than 60 days away with the first-round slated to start on Thursday, April 29. Various mock drafts are being pored over by analysts and fans alike, leading to this question: what will the Broncos do with the No. 9 overall pick?
Perhaps a plug-and-play cornerback the likes of Alabama's Patrick Surtain II or Virginia Tech's Caleb Farley?
Or maybe a quarterback like North Dakota State's Trey Lance or Ohio State's Justin Fields could slip to Denver forcing Broncos GM George Paton to make a tough decision.
On Tuesday, Jeremiah identified the best team fits for draft prospects, and listed Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons as a player that could thrive in Denver specifically in Vic Fangio’s defense.
"He can do so many different things, and Vic could be creative with him," Jeremiah said. "Week to week, you could change his role. ... I think he could be a really good rusher, too, if you just wanted to cut him loose."
At 6-foot-3, 245-pounds, Parsons is considered to be the premier linebacker in this year’s draft class. I recently listed the sideline-to-sideline linebacker as a generational talent within reach for Denver at pick No. 9.
Parsons has a rare combination of size and speed, which will benefit him against the pass-happy nature of the modern NFL offense. Pro Football Focus has drawn comparisons with Parsons as the closest prototypical linebacker since seven-time All-Pro Luke Kuechly out of Boston College in 2012.
Film study immediately reveals a playmaking athlete that inflicts hard hits on the ball-carrier and isn’t afraid to take on offensive linemen. Parsons' coverage abilities are very rare for a player his size and would immediately plague the desperate need to cover a tight end for the Broncos.
Although Denver's Alexander Johnson finished last season with 124 tackles (72 solo), he’s a major liability in pass coverage. His teammate and 2018 fourth-round pick Josey Jewell is coming off a career season with 113 tackles (67 solo), five tackles for a loss, five QB hits, four passes defended, and two sacks.
However, Jewell lacks the athleticism and agility required to cover NFL tight ends in the middle of the field and running backs in the flat. The fact of the matter is Denver needs playmakers at the linebacker position and Fangio can’t coach speed.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers World-Champion linebacker duo of Devin White and Lavonte David literally revealed a blueprint for how to beat the Kansas City Chiefs: apply pressure to the QB and take away his receiving threats.
In order for the Broncos to implement that blueprint, the team needs to first identify and invest in the linebacker position starting in Round 1.
Follow Luke on Twitter @LukePattersonLP.
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