Smart. Tough. Dependable.
Those are three words the New York Giants always fall back on when they talk about the type of players they want to continue building their roster with.
Listening to Clemson linebacker Trenton Simpson speak on Wednesday at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine, it was impossible not to think about how well Simpson embodies those three pillars of the Giants’ belief system
Simpson is a military brat, born on the Fort Benning military base in Columbus, Ga. His dad, Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy D. Simpson, was an Army Ranger who spent 26 years in the military and served 17 deployments.
Smart. Tough. Dependable.
Those are traits that have been ingrained in Simpson since he was a little kid running around military bases surrounded by only other military families.
“It’s definitely taught me a lot about discipline, being on time,” Simpson said on Wednesday during his 2023 NFL Scouting Combine media availability. “In the military you’ve gotta be your brother’s keeper and that’s what I prided myself on at Clemson.”
So, yeah, he understands tough and dependable. Smart? He earned a degree in sports communication from Clemson in just three years while playing at a high level for one of the premier football programs in the country. So, he has that, too.
Simpson called his parents “amazing,”and is rightfully proud of his father’s service.
“I take pride in that my dad fights for this country. He’s a very great man, he’s a great leader,” Simpson said. “Being able to have my dad to look at for motivation is truly a blessing. I can ask him a lot about adversity, how to respond to things like that. He’s just a great father and a great role model.”
Simpson said he wants to be “somebody that they [NFL teams] can trust on and off the field.”
Clemson LB Trenton Simpson on his NFL dream coming true. pic.twitter.com/U3GDRP5mIj— Big Blue View (@bigblueview) March 1, 2023
Simpson said reaching the NFL will be the culmination of a dream that began when he started playing football as a six year old.
“This is a dream come true. I’ve worked my whole life for this since I was six years old. I worked so hard, so hard putting in countless hours,” he said.
“I think about first time being on the field at six years old and how everything came to be. This is truly a dream come true and I won’t let it slip by. I’m going to take advantage of every opportunity, have a great time, enjoy it and live in the moment.”
Simpson is one of the most athletic, versatile linebackers in the 2023 draft class — maybe the most athletic and versatile.
In a scouting report on Simpson, the 33rd Team wrote:
Trenton Simpson is a do-it-all linebacker who can successfully come downhill to fill against the run, drop to cover and rush the quarterback. He’s one of the most versatile defenders for the 2023 draft, with an ability to wear multiple hats on defense which makes him one of the most valuable as well.
Simpson, sometimes chosen for the Giants in mock drafts, is ranked No. 28 on the NFL Mock Draft Database Consensus Big Board.
Simpson believes he “can play at all three levels – defensive end, all three linebackers, safety and free safety.”
That versatility, he says “brings a lot of value.”
“Being able to be on the field all three downs. That’s what I pride myself on,” Simpson said. “Being able to be in the box on first and second down and then third down spying any quarterback. I feel like that’s my best attribute, being able to spy that quarterback. He moves off the spot I’m going to get him every time.
“Being able to be on the field on all three downs is really important for today’s linebacker and with my speed and athletic ability that’s perfect for today’s NFL linebacker.”
NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said last week that Simpson is “unbelievable when he spies the quarterback.”
Simpson said Wednesday that performing that role is his favorite thing to do on the football field.
“I love to spy. When I see that quarterback move off the spot I know I’ve got the speed and I have a great awareness of angles,” Simpson said. “Once I see an angle I’m going to get him every time. That’s my game. I love spying. That’s a challenge to me. I love it.”
Simpson is one of those players expected to light up the combine with his workout numbers when linebackers test on Thursday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“I will be the fastest linebacker there,” said Simpson, adding that he expects to run a 4.4 40-yard dash. If he does, that would put him somewhere in the 95th percentile or above for off-ball linebackers.
“I’ll go out there and have great drills,” Simpson said. “I’ve been doing that my whole life. That will be natural. Catching the ball is what I do.
“Go out there, have a good time, show my skills off, have fun, and just enjoy the moment, live in the moment ... I’m excited to go out there and just continue in this process.”
Smart. Tough. Dependable. And perhaps more athletic and versatile than any linebacker in the class.
Could that combination convince the Giants to use the 25th pick in the draft on him?