One of the most intriguing players in this year’s draft is Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons. In terms of talent, Simmons is one of the best prospects, but there are other things that need to be considered. First is an off the field incident that occurred when Simmons was in high school. While what he did in high school was horrific, according to reports he has been a model citizen while in college. The second concern is that he tore his ACL and will be coming into the NFL as a rehabbing player.
Simmons is a big man. He is 6’4” and 301 lbs and has the versatility to play multiple schemes. Due to his off the field issues in high school, he was not invited to the Combine, not that he would have been able to participate anyway, due to the ACL injury. NFL Network’s Lance Zierlein has compared Simmons to Ndamukong Suh and after seeing his strengths it is easy to see why.
In his three seasons in college, he had 163 tackles and 32.5 of them were tackles for loss. His sack numbers went down in 2018, but his tackles for loss went up which still shows how explosive Simmons was in college and how explosive he can be at the next level. However, he does need to develop his pass rushing moves.
Some of his strengths include his ability to shred blockers. His physicality and motor make him tough for offensive linemen to handle. He is also instinctive, athletic and strong. The way the NFL is now, you need to bring pressure up the middle. Simmons has the ability to do that and make opposing quarterbacks feel the pocket collapsing around them.
Sometimes Simmons gets out of position trying to make a play which is something he will need to focus on not doing at the next level. He is also very raw and needs time to develop. During his time rehabbing, he will have the opportunity to learn the game on a cerebral level, even if he cannot take the field. If he takes that seriously and learns from the coaches and veteran players, he can one day be considered a top defensive tackle.
The Browns have had a private meeting with Simmons, so obviously there is some interest there. If the Browns do draft him, he can be given the opportunity to take it slow and make sure his rehab is going well, as the Browns have Larry Ogunjobi and Sheldon Richardson as their starting defensive tackles. The big question is will the Browns be able to get him at pick #49 or will they need to trade up. Some teams will not have Simmons on their draft board because of his high school indiscretion, but GM John Dorsey has shown that he is willing to draft players who had some issues in their pasts.
Do not be surprised if the Browns trade in to the end of the 1st round on Thursday night April 25th to draft Simmons.