Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Curt Phillips (10) is forced out of the pocket by Ohio State Buckeyes defensive lineman John Simon (54) during the first quarter at Camp Randall Stadium.
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Offensive lineman, safety, running back, wide receiver – or will it be linebacker and a guy by the name of John Simon that General Manager Ted Thompson focuses on when the Green Bay Packers make their first round selection in the NFL Draft starting April 25?
Simon, who struggled through injury in 2012 and saw limited action, was still named the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year. Despite playing in just 11 games, the Youngstown, Ohio, native finished last season with 44 tackles, 14.5 tackles which were for loss, and nine sacks – a stat that was a career high.
Ohio State Coach Urban Meyer called Simon the “heart and soul” of his defensive squad, but his draft status remain in flux because he didn’t participate in either the Combine or his pro day workouts. He did recently participate in a personal workout for NFL scouts.
Purdue Boilermakers running back Akeem Shavers (24) is tackled by Ohio State Buckeyes defensive back Christian Bryant (2) defensive lineman John Simon (54) and linebacker Ryan Shazier (10) at Ohio Stadium.
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His injuries have been a concern, but Simon seems ready to go. In an interview published in the San Francisco 49ers official website, he said about his move from college to the pros, “It’s a big step and it comes with the same requirements as it did from high school to college and that’s hard work. I’m rehabbing every day doing everything I can, coming in here trying to meet with some coaches and leave my mark and do everything I can to help myself out.”
Given his size, 6-2, 257 pounds, Simon, with his high motor, is considered a good prospect for linebacker in a 3-4 system – thus the Packers potential interest.
A recent evaluation of Simon on cbssports.com said that he is “Arguably the most relentless and motivated player in college football. Simon has been a force for the Ohio State defensive line since stepping foot on campus four years ago and lives in the weight and film rooms.”
He’s been timed in the past somewhere between 4.62 and 4.70 in the 40, with times of 4.42 seconds in the short shuttle and 7.10 in the three-cone shuttle.
Between 2010 and 2012, Simon has had statistics that should qualify him for a draft selection position somewhere between the second and fourth rounds. If he falls farther than that, there will be a team out there that gets a steal.
In a stellar career at Ohio State, Simon was in on 139 tackles (75 tackles, 64 assists), and had 19 sacks – nine of which came last year. He also had nine passes defensed and three fumble recoveries.
Illinois running back Jason Ford (left) dives on his fumble while chased by Ohio State Buckeyes defensive tackle John Simon (54) during the second quarter at Memorial Stadium.
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Simon has been described as a defender who tackles through the ball carrier and rarely misses – a trait that should play well in the mind of Ted Thompson. The Packers are in need of linebackers who are quick of feet and attack the offense – players who disrupt the flow of offenses in the offensive backfield. Simon could provide that skill set.
“I’m projected by some teams as an outside linebacker in a 3-4,” Simon said. “That’s just a standup D-end which I played a lot of at Ohio State. I’d definitely feel comfortable if a team wanted to put me in that position. I’d do whatever they want me to do. I’m not going to tell a coach no.”
One of the weaknesses nfl.com attributed to Simon was his overaggressiveness – “Simon plays too energetic at times and will wear himself out due to his relentless attitude. He takes overaggressive angles at times and needs to control his intensity.”
To me, that’s the type of player who will make an outstanding pro. He doesn’t necessarily have to be a three-down defender at the pro level and could be used in situational downs when his aggressiveness will play well for the defense.
But Simon thinks he will fit in wherever he lands – “I’m a true teammate who’s going to help the team no matter what it takes and a guy who’s going to go non-stop to the whistle for four quarters. Hopefully I’ll get picked up by a team that really wants me and I can help out … They’re going to get the hardest worker on their team and a guy who’s going to be loyal to the team.”
If the Packers are interested in a high-motor linebacker who could bring a nasty streak to the defensive side of the ball, Simon may be the guy who fits in well with.