Opinions are running wild in Nashville this morning regarding the Titans selection of Jeffery Simmons. Simmons would have gone much earlier last night had he not torn his ACL while training for the NFL Combine. The Titans were likely very thrilled that he was still available when they came on the clock.
Put the tape on and it’s clear to see why the Titans took Simmons. He’s an incredibly powerful prospect that effected the pocket on what felt like a snap-by-snap basis throughout 2018. I studied seven games from Simmons last season, and he was good-to-great in all of them. He was also double teamed on just about every snap I watched, yet he was still incredibly effective.
In Simmons, the Titans are finally getting a blue chip talent to pair next to Jurrell Casey. That’s something they’ve never had during Casey’s tenure as a Titan. When Simmons returns from injury, they’ll have it now.
Let’s get to some of the tape that caught my eye.
Mike Vrabel called Simmons “disruptive” during the press conference after the pick was made. That is really what this pick was all about. Simmons’ ability to create pressure up the middle made him one of the most disruptive forces on any college football field throughout 2018.
Simmons has the potential to make this entire defense better once he is healthy and on the field. He’s an incredibly powerful prospect with a bull rush that’s a pleasure to watch.
Another aspect of Simmons’ game that stood out to me during my evaluation of him was his hand usage. It’s incredibly advanced for a prospect his age. He keeps his hands active and fighting while engaged with his opponent. He’s constantly working hard to disengage from his opponent. His hands are often why he gets to the quarterback so quickly.
I once had a lengthy conversation with current Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. If you’re not familiar with coach Mattison, he’s been coaching in college football since 1977 and has coached several big-time defensive line talents. He told me that snap anticipation is the single most important aspect to any defensive linemen. “If he can’t get off the ball, I have no use for him” is what Mattison said to me. When coach Mattison speaks about evaluating defensive line talent, you listen. I’ve taken that piece of information with me when scouting defensive line prospects. Simmons has the single most important trait that can lead to success at the next level.
Another important aspect to the success of a defensive linemen is his ability to move laterally and make plays outside of his frame. Drafting run stuffers isn’t as popular as it used to be, and rightfully so. It’s a passing league and you need defensive line talent that can effect the quarterback. Simmons does that. Despite these facts, it’s still important for a defensive linemen to move well laterally and make plays while doing so. Simmons does plenty of that on tape.
There are still plenty of questions to be answered here. When will the Titans get Simmons on the field? Will it be during the 2019 season, or is his rookie season essentially a write off? The Titans are obviously very comfortable with how he checked out medically. They wouldn’t have drafted him last night if they weren’t.
When Simmons does get on the field, he’s going to be a massive difference maker. The Titans feel they have the luxury of time with this selection. It’s pretty clear Jon Robinson and Mike Vrabel aren’t afraid of losing their jobs. They wouldn’t have picked a player that may not make an impact in 2019 if they were. That sort of job security will lead to a lot of level headed thinking.
It’s the sort of thinking that allows you to draft a blue chip, elite talent at No. 19 overall. That’s exactly what the Titans did last night.