John Simon doesn't have the looks of an NFL defensive end, but he showed his ability to contribute in three years as a starter for Ohio State and a senior year that saw him win Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
Simon closed out a brilliant Ohio State career with this year's 12-0 teams: as SB Nation's Land-Grant Holy Land wrote, coaches and teammates alike praised him as a leader in a year that culminated with the honor for his conference's best defensive player. He showed ability to play on both ends and even put his hand on the ground as a defensive tackle from time to time.
But how much will that translate to the next level? He's only 6'2, and although he's incredibly strong, that's a linebacker's size on the next level. He tried playing that in the Senior Bowl with very poor results when he wound up singled in coverage against tight ends and running backs. Land-Grant Holy Land thinks there's a spot for him in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons:
John Abraham can't play like this forever, and if John Simon isn't a 4-3 defensive end I don't know who is. Simon can play early on as a rotational end, then hopefully develop into a starter. He has the motor, elite strength, and the intangibles. Now he needs a veteran to school him on technique. Who better to learn from than a former All-Pro like Abraham? Simon can only add to an already awesome defense.
Simon might have not be a top prospect, but his defensive acumen and strength are too much for him to fall far. He's projected as a third-rounder by most.
Here's a video of arguably the best game of Simon's career - his last, a four-sack effort against Wisconsin, courtesy of DraftBreakdown.com.
- Extremely strong: blows up blocks, great tackler
- Consistently earns praise as leader, highly motivated player
- Aggressive defensively, attacks rather than reacts
- Somewhat apositional at next level: too small to play defensive end, too slow and inexperienced to play linebacker
- Very weak in coverage, which he might be expected to play in the NFL
- Urban Meyer once caught media waves for comparing his defensive leader to another famous player he coached in college - Tim Tebow. From the Cleveland Plain-Dealer:
"One guy I'll point out to you is No. 54, John Simon. He's a freak. I've not been around a guy like that, other than my quarterback -- that left-handed kid at Florida, Tebow. He's different."
Strengths: Simon has a motor that never quits, playing extremely relentless as one of the best attacking defenders in college football the past few years. He has a strong upper body to swat and use his limbs to beat blocks with the natural power and forceful playing style to keep blockers off balance and shed.
Simon does a nice job setting the edge against the run and takes on blocks destructively, staying disciplined with excellent recognition skills. He takes aggressive angles in the run game and doesn't play hesitant, trusting his eyes and reacting in a flash. Simon tackles through the ballcarrier and has strong wrists and hands to secure stops, rarely missing tackles. He has good short-area quickness with good snap anticipation and dip off the edge to bend around the tackle and gain a step on blockers.
Simon plays every snap as if it's his last and doesn't know how to go half speed, playing motivated and focused. He is a smart, heady player to make impact plays against the run and pass, getting his hands up at the line of scrimmage. Simon is a two-year captain and there isn't a lot he hasn't seen, leading Ohio State as the heart of the team. He closes quickly and plays with excellent pursuit on defense and special teams coverage. Simon has versatile experience at both LE and RE, standing up and with his hand in the dirt, also moving inside to DT at times.
Simon won Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year his final year at Ohio State, finishing his senior year with a Big Ten-best nine sacks, as well as 45 tackles and 14.5 for loss.
Simon didn't have the best go of it in the Senior Bowl, where he tried to play linebacker, per Dane Brugler:
It was a rough day for Ohio State linebacker John Simon who looked like a fish out of water attempting to cover running backs or tight ends one-on-one in man coverage. He often found himself turned around, lacking the natural hip movement or footwork to quickly adjust and blanket his man. As a college defensive lineman, it's unfair to judge him based on the first practice, but it's obvious Simon will need a lot of coaching if he wants to stay at linebacker.