Brock Huard’s 2019 NFL Draft preview: Mississippi State DT Jeffery Simmons
Each weekday at 8:30 a.m. leading up to the NFL Draft, 710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock Huard will profile a prospect he considers to be a first-round possibility for the Seahawks. His previews continued Thursday with Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons.
Listen to Huard’s full breakdown of Simmons in the audio clip embedded below.
• Position: DT
• Height/weight: 6-4/301
• Class: Junior
• Hometown: Macon, MS
Scouting report: Simmons racked up plenty of honors while at Mississippi State. He was named to the 2016 SEC All-Freshman Team, First-Team All-SEC in 2017 and 2018, was a 2018 Conerly Trophy winner (given to the top college player in Mississippi), and was a semi-finalist for the 2018 Chuck Bednarik Award (presented to the best defensive player in college football). In three years with the Bulldogs, Simmons racked up 163 tackles, seven sacks, and one touchdown on a fumble recovery.
Despite his impressive college performance, Simmons was not invited to February’s NFL Scouting Combine. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, Simmons was one of two top players who were not invited over past issues involving violence. (Simmons was charged with simple assault in 2016 after he was captured on video hitting a woman; he issued an apology in March 2016.) In addition to concerns surrounding his past, there is also a recent injury concern. Simmons suffered a torn ACL while training earlier this year, for which he underwent surgery in February.
Brock’s take: “He is the most polarizing pick in this entire draft for a multitude of reasons. There are going to be a number of programs that don’t have him on their draft board; that will not get over a vicious fight before he entered Mississippi State… there will be organizations that simply say, ‘I’m sorry, I’m not going to go down that road.’ And there will be others that have Joe Mixon and Kareem Hunt on their rosters that say, ‘Hey, people deserve a second chance. That’s when this kid was in high school.’
What did he do at Mississippi State for three years? Well, he was actually a model citizen. Won their awards for his work on and off the field. He was a five-star gigantic Pete Carroll recruit coming out of high school in Mississippi. The talent is off the charts. He’s 6-4, 300-pounds, and he’s got 34-and-a-half inch arms. Remember Fletcher Cox was a Mississippi State bulldog? This guy is more talented; a two-time All-SEC, All-American last year. An absolute freak show.
“If this kid has no incident in his past in high school, no video, and if this kid has no torn ACL, he’s a top-five pick, period… He’s going to have to answer in his pre-draft visits about that video that will never going away. That video is never, ever going away. And I hope he’s honest and says that was the worst mistake of my life and that’s not the guy you’re getting three years later; you’re getting the guy that won the team’s Newsom Award for my work on and off the field, for my work in the classroom. You’re going to draft me because of the ability I have to change your program.
“I don’t think the ACL will scare them off. It’s going to be about his background and how well do you really know him. I’m telling you man, if he’s there at 21, you’re talked about — Jarran Reed was a gifted guy, but is nowhere close to this athletically — you’re talking about getting one of those elite D-tackles that other teams have that you should not be able to get at 21. Should not be there. He should be off the board in the top five. But he’s sitting there because of a video, because of an ACL, and because of his past transgressions. What are you going to do John Schneider?”
How he’d fit: Defensive line might be the Seahawks’ biggest area of need in 2019. They certainly have a need for a pass rusher on the other side of Frank Clark, but an additional run-stuffer and interior lineman is also a priority. The Seahawks have a first-round pick, but are widely expected to trade back — and Simmons may not slip to the second round.