The Washington Football Team's defense is already one of the NFL's best. But, if there is one specific hole in Jack Del Rio's unit, it's at the linebacker position.
The 2021 NFL Draft isn't necessarily loaded at linebacker the way draft classes have been in recent years, but there are still a handful of players at the position who are expected to go in the first round. One of those is former Penn State star Micah Parsons.
If Parsons is still on the board when it's Washington's turn to pick, former NFL linebacker Takeo Spikes thinks the choice is easy for the Burgundy and Gold.
"Take him, no question," Spikes said on 106.7 The Fan's B-Mitch and Finlay on Thursday.
For Spikes, a 15-year NFL veteran and two-time Pro Bowler, Parsons is the type of player who can change the identity of a defense, even an already talented group like Washington's.
"Listen, I know Washington has Jon Bostic already. You got Cole Holcomb on the outside," Spikes said. "But at the end of the day, you want to have a defense that has an identity. You want guys to come in and prove that not only do we have a young stud to build around, but he has an attitude where he ain't taking no smack from nobody."
Parsons has been mocked to Washington on multiple occasions, but there's a decent chance he comes off the board well before Ron Rivera's club is on the clock (in NBC Sports Washington's latest mock, Parsons is the first defensive player off the board to the Denver Broncos ninth overall). The linebacker's draft projection has ranged anywhere from the top five to the mid-20s.
However, Parsons' stock appears to be rising after he ran an impressive 4.39 40-yard dash at his Pro Day on Thursday.
"I think a lot of people had me at 4.5, 4.6 maybe. I think I'm the fastest linebacker in this draft and I really showed people how good I could move," Parsons told NFL Network's Kim Jones.
"I think a lot of people slept on that. I think they thought I was fast, but not that fast. I'm glad I was able to shock the world."
After hearing how fast Parsons ran during his Pro Day, Spikes thinks teams will have even more of an incentive to use an early first-round pick on the 21-year-old.
"Even if he would have ran a 4.5, I still think that's [he's] a prime prospect to be drafted considerably top 15," Spikes said. "But now that he's ran a 4.39, this totally changes the game."
To be clear: testing numbers and 40-yard dash times do not always correlate to successful NFL players. New York Giants wide receiver John Ross III holds the record for the fastest 40-yard dash time in NFL Combine history, but the former ninth overall pick has not had much success as a pro so far. He's not the only one either, as Dri Archer and Stanford Routt are two other examples of such.
But in Parsons' case, Spikes thinks the linebacker would be an excellent fit in Washington's defense. That was said even before Spikes knew the Penn State linebacker's 40-yard dash time.
Why? Spikes believes that Parsons' strengths fit well with the defense Del Rio wants to run.
"I know how Jack Del Rio thinks. He's an aggressive play-caller," Spikes says. "He wants guys who are going to come downhill and are not going to take anything from anybody. He could be a great candidate to pick."