Denver Broncos: 10 players to avoid in the 2021 NFL Draft

Denver Broncos 2021 NFL Draft: Micah Parsons (Photo by Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images)
Denver Broncos 2021 NFL Draft: Micah Parsons (Photo by Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images) /
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Denver Broncos, 2021 NFL Draft, Micah Parsons
Denver Broncos 2021 NFL Draft, Micah Parsons. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports /

1. Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

George Paton attended the Penn State pro day in person, and there’s no doubt about it — the majority of scouts and executives were there to see Micah Parsons and Jayson Oweh.

Incidentally, both of those players made this list.

Plenty has been made among NFL Draft Twitter about Micah Parsons’ off-field concerns, but is it enough? Are Parsons’ off-field concerns concerning enough that the Denver Broncos would avoid drafting the star linebacker?

That remains to be seen.

Since it’s not being put out there a ton by major media outlets, what exactly are Parsons’ off-field concerns?

Dating back to his days in high school, Parsons’ maturity has come into question. He is alleged to have shouted the word “gun” in the high school cafeteria that got him a three-day suspension and ultimately resulted in his transferring away from the school, though Parsons maintains he transferred for other reasons.

Bucky Brooks of NFL Network has said that immaturity is an area of concern for Parsons off the field, noting that he has known him since his high school days.

Before he even joined Penn State, there was a ton of drama surrounding Parsons’ recruitment including a commitment to Penn State, de-commitment, an issue when he was being recruited by Ohio State that caused the Buckeyes’ program to drop their pursuit of Parsons and self-report violations to the NCAA, and then re-commitment to Penn State.

Upon arrival at Penn State, the off-field issues allegedly got worse for Parsons, who is accused of some pretty heinous things by one of his former Penn State teammates Isaiah Humphries. Some of the details of those allegations you can read here.

It’s also important to note that Penn State issued a statement (also included in that link above) in which it said an investigation was conducted regarding the allegations and found they were unsubstantiated.

Parsons was asked about the alleged character concerns in March 2021 and chalked it up to his youth, saying, “We all make mistakes when we’re 17-18.” He doesn’t want those mistakes to define the person he is now.

Interestingly enough, another former Penn State defensive star — Yetur Gross-Matos — was named among the allegations of hazing along with Parsons, but that was never really brought up at all in his pre-draft evaluation.

Gross-Matos and Parsons both had suspensions at some point in 2019 (Gross-Matos at the start of the season, Parsons in November) for violating team rules. Gross-Matos’ suspension was a summer-long suspension, which again never really came up before the Panthers picked him 38th overall unless you followed the Penn State program closely.

Either way, the NFL must have agreed with Penn State that it was all in the past or unsubstantiated and overlooked it.

Will they do the same for Parsons? That remains to be seen.

Parsons is a pass rusher by nature who is learning the off-ball linebacker position. He is a physical freak of nature and if on-field is the only piece of the evaluation, he’s probably the best defensive player in this draft class with plenty of room to get even better considering he only has one season as a full-time starter.

Still, Parsons’ off-field red flags, apparent maturity concerns, and positional value (linebackers are not valued overly high when it comes to 1st-round picks) are all reasons the Denver Broncos may want to avoid him altogether.

And yet, still, they may not.

The team needs to make sure they do plenty of research before making Parsons a top draft pick, if indeed that is the plan.