2021 NFL Draft: Why Micah Parsons could be Falcons' first-round pick 

Taking a closer look at why linebacker Micah Parsons could be Atlanta's first-round pick

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If the Falcons were to trade out of the No. 4 pick on Thursday night, depending on where they would then pick, the options for who they could take are aplenty. As of right now, most mock drafts have Atlanta selecting a quarterback or tight end Kyle Pitts if they opt not to trade out.

And while you could make a case for why a quarterback or Pitts would be the right pick for Atlanta, there's no denying the Falcons need help on defense in a big way. If general manager Terry Fontenot and head coach Arthur Smith decide to move back and cash in on more picks for the future, linebacker Micah Parsons could be a serious candidate to be the Falcons' first-round pick.

Parsons is one of the most athletic players in this year's draft class. The 6-foot-2, 245-pound linebacker fits the mold of what defensive coordinators around the NFL are looking for at this position. His ability to get sideline-to-sideline with maximum speed and take on blocks are why the projections for what he can be in the NFL are sky high right now.

He's also shown tremendous ability to diagnose and process what offenses are doing pre-snap helping him make plays all over the field. The former five-star defensive end recruit coming out of high school is also capable of getting to the quarterback at every level. Parsons opted out of the 2020 season but the season prior, he ended up leading his team in tackles with 109, five sacks, five pass breakups and four forced fumbles.

Why he fits with the Falcons

The Falcons could use a playmaker like Parsons on the defensive side of the ball. After finishing the 2020 season ranked No. 32 in passing yards given up per game (293.6), No. 29 in total yards per game (398.4), No. 23 in sacks (29) and No. 19 in points per game (25.9), the need to add more talent on this side of the ball is evident.

In defensive coordinator Dean Pees' defense, players will be asked to bring pressure from anywhere on the field. This system bodes well for a player with Parsons' skillset because of his athleticism and previous experience as a defensive end.

Parsons would also add more speed and athleticism to an already talented group with Deion Jones, Foye Oluokun and Mykal Walker already on the roster. The need to create more turnovers defensively is also something the Falcons will need to do more of and Parsons' ability to make plays on the ball make him an ideal fit for what Atlanta needs.

Expert analysis:

"Performance-grade inside/outside linebacker prospect possessing an NFL-ready frame and explosive speed that could make him a highly productive talent at the next level. He's most impactful when he's kept clean and allowed to run and chase the action, but carries no physical limitations into the pros. His instincts and play recognition need to catch up with his physical gifts in order to play downhill and find the most efficient routes to the football. His rush talent is a potential wild card in how teams decide to use him, but he's likely to show rapid improvement and should be a Day 1 starter." – Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

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