Simon Finally Shows Off Versatility for NFL Scouts
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — At long last, John Simon finally got a chance to show NFL scouts what he is capable of on Monday.
They were probably starting to forget.
Photo by Jim Davidson
After missing his Senior Day at Ohio Sate because of a knee injury, Simon was also held out of the Senior Bowl back in January because of a lingering shoulder problem. He didn’t work out at the NFL Combine back in February, and the senior defensive end out of Youngstown could not partake in Ohio State’s Pro Day earlier this month.
Finally healthy, Simon held his own private pro day in Columbus on Monday morning. There were representatives from 12 teams on hand to watch Simon run through drills, and one of the teams showing the most interest right now is the Pittsburgh Steelers
“I know that this is a relentless football player, and a strong character too. He's going to be an asset wherever he goes,” Steelers’ defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau told The-Ozone.
“I would just be looking to see where the best place for him is, to give him his best chance to play, and what we would be asking him to do. I'll continue to look.”
Photo by Jim Davidson
Simon reportedly ran the 40-yard dash in 4.68 and 4.73 seconds on Monday, which are pretty respectable times for a guy who came to Ohio State as a 280-pound nose tackle back in 2009.
He also reportedly ran the short shuttle in 4.42 seconds and the three-cone drill in 7.10 seconds. Simon had a 34-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot-1 broad jump during his pro day workout, but he did not lift on the bench press (his specialty) for fear of aggravating the shoulder injury that was bothering him throughout most of his senior season at Ohio State.
His numbers compare favorably to UConn’s Trevardo Williams, who ran the fastest 40 time (4.57) among defensive linemen at the NFL Combine in February. Williams also turned in the best vertical leap (38 inches) of all the defensive linemen, while LSU’s Barkevious Mingo had the top broad jump (10-8) and three-cone drill time (6.54 seconds).
There is a lot more to Simon, however, than just 40 times and bench press reps. He was two-time captain at Ohio State, and a guy who was called the “heart and soul” of the Buckeyes last season by head coach Urban Meyer.
“You can always base a guy’s character off his effort and leadership abilities,” Simon told The-Ozone.
“Those are things you can’t measure with stats.”
Photo by Jim Davidson
One of the main things Simon wanted to show during his pro day was his versatility. Along with defensive linemen drills, Simon also did a number linebacker workouts and reportedly looked astonishingly natural catching the ball and dropping into coverage.
“I have a lot of experience with the stand-up outside linebacker from my junior year playing that Leo position,” Simon said.
“A lot of coverage drops, so I feel comfortable if a team wants me to do that. I have a lot of experience, as much as putting my hand in the ground, so I think that could help me.”
He was one of the most dominant defensive linemen in the Big Ten during his final two seasons at Ohio State. Simon was named the Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Year with 44 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss and a career-high nine sacks last season.
That’s something LeBeau and other coaches will look at when the target Simon on draft day next month.
“We try to look at everything,” said LeBeau, who played both ways at Ohio State under Woody Hayes before starring as a defensive back with the Detroit Lions.
“This is a player who has done whatever was necessary to get on the field. It's still going to be what we're going to be asking him to do, so those are all pluses for him.”
At 6-1, 257 pounds, Simon is a little undersized for an NFL defensive end, even in a 4-3 scheme. Fortunately, the league is changing. Defenses are playing less base and more package-oriented schemes that require versatile football players who do a multitude of things when they’re on the field.
“I think he has flexibility,” LeBeau added.
“I think there's several areas that he could work at, such as a third down pass rushing package with the energy that he imparts. He's got a record of finding a way to get things done.”
That’s what Simon will continue to do, regardless of where he ends up at the next level.
“Wherever they want me, that’s the scheme that will fit me best,” he said.
“I feel like my versatility could help me out in the draft. I’m able to help a football team in a multitude of ways, so hopefully that will help me out on draft day.”
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