6 linebackers the Carolina Panthers could pick in the 2021 NFL Draft

(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) Micah Parsons
(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) Micah Parsons /
2 of 4
Carolina Panthers
(Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports) Zaven Collins /

Micah Parsons – Penn State

How do you replace a do-all player like Luke Kuechly? You draft another at the middle linebacker position named Micah Parsons.

Parsons is the best linebacker prospect in this year’s draft. A team can take the former Penn State product, immediately plug him in as a starter and have the position solidified for the next eight to 12 years.

In two seasons at Penn State, if the Nittany Lions needed a big play or a clutch stop, Parsons would undoubtedly make it. As a freshman, he totaled 82 tackles, four for a loss, four sacks, and two forced fumbles. In his sophomore campaign, the prospect racked up 109 tackles, 14 for a loss, five passes defended, four forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery.

Parsons needs to work on shedding blocks and he can be overly aggressive at times. But outside of those things, it is hard to find something on tape that he doesn’t do well.

He is a great tackler and possesses supreme explosiveness with great sideline-to-sideline speed. Parsons can defend the run and drop back into zone pass coverage. He’s at his best when covering tight ends and running backs in the passing good and also has superb read-and-react skills.

Parsons is immensely disruptive and has excellent closing speed.

The Carolina Panthers should certainly take a look at Parsons to solidify their middle linebacker position for the future.

Zaven Collins – Tulsa

Should the Panthers trade back in the first round, Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins could be a good pickup late in the first round or early in the second.

Collins has been a great player on defense for Tulsa in each of his three seasons. During an abbreviated eight-game campaign in 2020, the prospect racked up 54 tackles, 7.5 for a loss, four sacks, four interceptions, two interceptions returned for touchdowns, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery on his way to the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which is awarded to the nation’s best defensive player.

Collins is a starting linebacker at the NFL level, who can play all over the field. He has a great combination of size, speed, and athleticism. The player can rush the passer, defend in pass coverage, play downhill, and in space – making him the complete package.

Should the Panthers and Hasson Reddick part ways next offseason, Collins could plug in and solidify Carolina’s SAM position for years to come.