+Strength (relative too size)
-Too short for defensive end at 6’1, not athletic enough for linebacker
-Below average football speed
I wanted to like Ohio State defensive end John Simon. I really did. What can a guy dislike about a guy who was recently banned from entering the Woody Hayes Athletic Center by himself because he lifts weights too much? Meyer wants players to learn from Simon, plus I’m sure he wants his players to make sure Simon doesn’t work out until he dies. I can’t help but love his character. But, at the same time, what is there to like about an undersized defensive end who isn’t very athletic and has no quickness?
Simon has mediocre measurables. My big red flag for him is his height. Unless your name is Dwight Freeney, you can’t cut it at defensive end in the NFL at Simon’s height of 6’1. His length isn’t very impressive either. However, he has solid bulk at 270lbs, and he has above average speed with a 4.76 40 yard dash.
Simon has solid stats. In 2011, he got 53 tackles, 16.0 TFL’s, and 7.0 sacks, to go along with a respectable 3 pass breakups. In 2010, he got 41 tackles, 8.5 TFL’s, and 3 sacks. His stats aren’t poor, but they aren’t really mind blowing either.
I don’t think Simon profiles too well as a pass rusher. I don’t think he has the size and length necessary to play 4-3 end at the NFL level. Yet, at the same time, I don’t think he has the athleticism to play 3-4 outside linebacker at the NFL level. As a pass rusher, Simon tries to rely on pass rush moves and strength, but, considering his lack of length, I don’t think he’ll be able to get with his hand usage and strength at the NFL level. Much of hand usage is moving the arms of the O-lineman to get in good position to shed the block. However, Simon has very short arms, and the higher he rises, the longer the arms of the linemen he faces will get. Offensive tackles with even the smallest amount of length will get their hands on his chest and drive him off the ball on pass plays, knowing his arms are too short for him to even touch their chest and try to get off the block. People will naturally suggest that he tries to find other ways to get to the quarterback. But Simon has no quickness whatsoever, and his hips are extremely tight, so he has virtually no chance of ever being able to use methods like the speed rush with any kind of success. The bull rush won’t work either because, even though he has tremendous strength, his short arms make it nearly impossible for him to even touch O-linemen and move them backwards at the NFL level. I don’t see how Simon profiles as a pass rusher at the next level.
I mentioned that I don’t think Simon has the length for 4-3 end at the next level. So what about 3-4 outside linebacker? More red flags. He is too short for strongside outside linebacker (they need to cover tight ends), and he is way too bulky to play 3-4 weakside outside linebacker. Even if he lost 20lbs and played 3-4 weakside outside linebacker, he still would probably be a nightmare in coverage, thanks to his tight hips, lack of change of direction skills, and lack of lateral range. I don’t think Simon has a chance in coverage, plus he lacks range, so I don’t see him being a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL.
Simon is mediocre against the run. He has incredibly tight hips, which make him a mediocre tackler (easy to juke out), and he doesn’t get great leverage against the run, and he has almost no range whatsoever. However, if he can get his short arms around a ball carrier, he is an excellent tackler, simply because he has phenomenal strength and he uses ideal tackling fundamentals. Although he has good instincts, he doesn’t look very fast on film, and his lack of short area speed makes him mediocre in pursuit. Plus, I don’t think it would be crazy to say he doesn’t even have enough range for defensive end at the NFL level.
Simon has awesome intangibles. As mentioned in the first paragraph, he was recently banned by Urban Meyer from entering the weight room alone since he lifts so many weights. His work in the weight room really plays dividends (benches 225lbs 48 times, completely unheard for a guy his size). I honestly can’t say I know everything about his character, because I don’t know him, but the way his coaches rave about him is a good sign for his character, and he plays with excellent on field intensity. I love Simon’s character.
The one position I think Simon has a chance to play in the NFL is defensive tackle. He’ll need to bulk up, but his length isn’t going to be as much of an issue at defensive tackle because offensive guards tend to have less length than offensive tackles, plus defensive tackles don’t need as much range as defensive ends. He profiles pretty well against the run as a defensive tackle, considering his solid strength and instincts. However, it’s all in theory. He still will need to add about 30lbs, plus it isn’t easy to learn a new position.
Honestly, I don’t think Simon is going to be a great player in the NFL. I love his intangibles and strength, but I can’t get over the fact that there aren’t many undersized defensive ends who aren’t very athletic and have no quickness that have ever had success at the NFL level. And I don’t see Simon being very successful either.
NFL Comparison: Brandon Graham with more strength.
Grade: 70 (worthy of a late third to early fourth round pick)
Projection: 87 (will be an early second round pick)