Does drafting Micah Parsons hurt Broncos’ culture?
As the 2021 NFL Draft approaches, Broncos Country is still unsure of the direction the Denver Broncos will take with the ninth overall pick. One player consistently landing with the Broncos in a plethora of mock drafts, including that of Mel Kiper, is Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons.
Parsons is a versatile and explosive pass-rusher, landing him as one of the top defensive prospects, even after opting out of the 2020 college football season due to COVID-19 concerns. This seems like a match made in heaven for defensive mastermind Vic Fangio, right?
Not so fast.
Parsons may have the makings of an NFL defensive superstar but has major off-the-field character concerns, and his maturity has been called into question. The largest concern with Parsons was involving a lawsuit filed against the Penn State football program over a hazing incident, in which a player alleged he had been sexually hazed by teammates such as Parsons and Yetur Gross-Matos.
In his time at Penn State, Parsons was also involved with a fight involving another teammate that allegedly escalated to the point of a knife being pulled, per the Tennessean.
Parsons addressed the media following his stellar Penn State Pro Day, and the essence of his message was that while he made mistakes at 17-18 years old, he has learned from them.
While this may be true, it is to be determined if Parsons is worth the risk to the Broncos.
In Fangio’s tenure, the Broncos have really built a positive culture that players wish to be a part of a culture that is trending in the right direction of winning.
Free agents such as Shelby Harris and Justin Simmons returning to the team in 2021 is a big acknowledgment of the trust that is emerging between Fangio, his staff, and the newest addition, general manager George Paton.
Alongside that trust is the arsenal of high-character players that the Broncos have built their team around, such as players like Simmons, Drew Lock, Dalton Risner, Brandon McManus and others. A large component of this franchise becoming a successful football program is the guys they can lean on to provide a good example and lead this locker room.
A guy with such concerns as Parsons just doesn’t seem to fit the mold of what the Broncos are trying to build with. If the Broncos were to select Parsons with the ninth pick, there could be a risk of that baggage carrying over to his NFL career, causing mistrust and putting the locker room dynamic at risk.
This would be a huge shame after how well this team has gelled over the past two seasons, even if their 2020 record does not reflect it.
Overall, while Parsons would almost undoubtedly have perfect chemistry with Fangio’s defense, it is likely not worth the risk that comes with the selection. If the Broncos want to look at EDGE players, they may be able to wait and find as good of talent with less risk, even in potential late day one or day two guys such as Zaven Collins, or even Jayson Oweh, Parson’s teammate.