Simon, Fragel Headed to AFC North
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — John Simon and Reid Fragel played together for four years at Ohio State. Now they’ll get to play against each other twice a year.
The two Ohio State seniors were both selected on the final day for the 2013 NFL Draft, with Simon going to the Baltimore Ravens with the 32nd pick in round four (No. 129 overall). The Cincinnati Bengals scooped up Fragel, who converted from tight end to offensive tackle as a senior, with the 34th pick (No. 240 overall) in the seventh, and final round of the draft.
Simon and Fragel were both considered three-star prospects in Ohio State’s class of 2009, and they join defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins as the only three Buckeyes to be drafted from last year’s undefeated season.
The two linemen had plenty of battles in practice last season and pretty soon they will line up on opposite side sin the AFC North. Simon joins the defending Super Bowl Champion Ravens, and he will be asked to help them offset some of the losses they saw on the defensive side of the football this offseason.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Simon was a two-time captain at Ohio State and the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year last season. He led the conference in sacks as a senior and his jersey is hanging in Urban Meyer’s office at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center right next to Tim Tebow’s.
The 6-1, 260-pound lineman out of Youngstown Cardinal Mooney actually came to the Buckeyes as a nose tackle, but he played every spot on the defensive line during his four years in Columbus. He even played some stand-up end as a junior in 2011, which could help him at the next level.
The Ravens run a 3-4 defense and Simon will likely be asked to move around at outside linebacker, possibly lining up at defensive end in obvious passing situations.
“What is he? I don't know,” Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell said of Simon.
“I guarantee you I would take him on my team as fast as I possibly could.”
Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said much of the same when he spoke to The-Ozone about Simon last month. The Steelers were interested in Simon’s versatility, leadership and toughness.
“I know that this is a relentless football player, and a strong character too,” LeBeau said of Simon, who finished his college career with 154 tackles and 20.5 sacks.
“He's going to be an asset wherever he goes.”
Unfortunately for the Steelers, Simon ended up with division rival Baltimore, while Fragel ended up in Cincinnati. The 6-8, 300-pound tackle out of Grosse Point South High School near Detroit held a private workout with the Bengals just before the draft, and it was enough that they decided to take a flyer on the OSU tackle in the seventh round.
Photo by Dan Harker
Fragel started nine games in three years as a blocking tight end for Jim Tressel and Luke Fickell before Urban Meyer took over the program following a 6-7 campaign in 2011. Fragel had made just 14 catches for 185 yards and a touchdown during that span and the move to right tackle allowed him to solidify himself as an every-down starter for the Buckeyes.
After battling with freshman Taylor Decker during the spring, Fragel emerged as one of Ohio State’s most consistent linemen during the course of his senior season.
“I’ve always been a lineman at heart,” he said.
“Even though I was at tight end, I was used as a blocking tight end. I was never catching 60-yard bombs or anything like that. I’ll leave that to (roommate Jeff Heuerman).
“Way back to ‘Pop Warner’ football, I’ve always been a lineman, so it’s not something that’s new to me.”
The Bengals apparently saw enough from Fragel on film and in workouts to think he could play offensive tackle at the next level. Some mock drafts had Fragel going as high as the fourth or fifth round, but it always felt like a longshot.
“There’s definitely doubts that come with only having a year, consistency being one of them,” he said, “but I’d like to think I opened a lot of eyes early on there. I have a lot more tread on my tires than a lot of these O-linemen and that’s a positive.”
Simon and Fragel were the 84th and 85th Buckeyes selected in the NFL Draft since 2000, which is the most of any school in the country during that span. They also became the 329th and 330th Buckeyes all-time to hear their name called in the NFL Draft.
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