When one of the elite talents in a draft class falls to the second day of the draft, a team has to draft them, right? It’s a tougher question than simply looking at talent and projections and turning in the card. When an elite prospect falls from where their talent says they should be drafted, there is always a reason why.
Back in 2011, the New York Giants selected Marvin Austin in the second round of the draft. Austin was considered to be one of the five or ten best players in his draft class, and the Giants selected him knowing that after being suspended for his final year at North Carolina, he was a “boom or bust” prospect. But they bet on his talent, their coaching staff, and their locker room to get the most out of him. And at first it looked like they were right. His rookie camp, he played like a top-5 prospect, utterly dominating everyone not named “Chris Snee,” and he even gave one of the very best guards in the game all he could handle. What the Giants couldn’t have foreseen was Austin falling awkwardly in a pre-season game and tearing a pec. And while he was able to come back from that injury, missing two years of football was just too much to overcome.
Dave Gettleman was with the Giants’ front office for that year, and might remember it well.
If so, it might inform on the team’s evaluation (and valuation) of Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons. Simmons is among the very best prospects in the entire draft, but he comes with a pair of red flags for a torn ACL (suffered during draft prep), and an off-field incident three years ago that ended in a conviction.
Will the Giants be able to look past his red flags if he presents elite potential at significant value?
- Prototypical length and frame.
- Impressive burst and first step.
- Shows a good motor and awareness.
- Almost unblockable at times.
- Has the power to push blockers back in the run game.
- Can stand up double teams.
- Suffered a torn ACL in training for the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine.
- Found guilty of assault and malicious mischief in 2016.
- Needs to be more consistent in using his hands to beat blockers.
- Sometimes struggles to get off blocks to make plays.
- Lateral agility is a question.
What They’re Saying
While Simmons may never be the point-of-attack monster that others in the class are, he’s still more than capable in that area while providing outstanding penetration ability. Mississippi State often had him playing from a square stance as an undersized nose tackle, which increased the amount of double teams he saw and didn’t give him many opportunities to fire gaps. In the NFL, Simmons will undoubtedly play more in the B-gap to get upfield and wreak havoc, while seeing far more 1v1 opportunities as a rusher. College football was good to him, but I think his best football is still ahead of him.
- Jon Ledyard (The Draft Network - Scouting Report)
Does He Fit The Giants?
Simmons the Giants’ defense in theory. He has the length, athleticism, and power to play a variety of roles based on down, distance, and sub-package in the defensive line in the Giants’ 1-gap defense. The bigger question is whether or not they would be willing to draft him.
In terms of raw talent, he is probably a top-10 player in this draft, with the physical tools to make scouts drool and plenty of production. He is sudden and explosive out of his stance, with enough flexibility to fire low and keep his pad level down through his rush. And when Jeffery fires off the snap, keeping his pads low, using his length and power to their fullest, he is all but unblockable. He isn’t talked about in the same breath as Quinnen Williams and Ed Oliver, but he is on their level s a prospect.
However, the twin red flags of an ACL torn in a routine draft prep workout and his conviction for assault could well drop him out of the first round altogether.
The Giants took a chance on Sam Beal, knowing that he had a medical red flag that could cost him his rookie season. However, they have also shown an aversion to players with character concerns. Simmons will go through a thorough medical testing before the draft, and his past will likely go through an even more in-depth probing than his knee.
And as well it should -- it was an ugly incident which involved him punching a woman while she lay on the ground. And while it was three years ago, he needs to show himself worthy of a second chance before the NFL gives him one. Reportedly, he has tried to do so and has been a model student and community member in his time at Mississippi State.
(For more on Simmons’ assault and attempt at redemption, check out this article from The Draft Network)
If the team finds itself comfortable with his medical prognosis and that he has made himself a better man, Simmons could be one of the steals of the draft on the second day.