NAME: Jeffery Simmons
SCHOOL: Mississippi State
POSITION: Interior Defensive Lineman
JERSEY: No. 94
RECRUITMENT RATING: 5-star
WT: 301 lbs
Competitive Toughness –Hot motor. Will string plays along out to the boundary and turn and hustle up the field in pursuit of the football. Makes a lot of second effort plays to pinball off a body and redirect. Anchor and ability to hold the LOS is erratic, however, play strength is compromised by power sets.
Two Gap Ability –Lack of consistent anchor and lack of stun punch to negate forward push will result in letting his pads rise up. Is not going to be a player tasked with stacking up blocks and engaging in late disengagement to make a play, is often late on these reps and lets back pass through the gap.
Gap Penetration Skills –Momentum helps him to play through lateral contact and play forcibly into the backfield. Leverage is most effective in linear situations, so his pads are down and his balance is difficult to derail. Next step is adding an earlier focus on coming to balance to allow him to redirect effectively.
Tackling –Violent finisher when bearing down on ball carriers and illustrates a powerful grasp to rip down opponents. Can get frozen by a quick footed ball carrier and be late to shift his weight to mirror and finish, putting the tackle into his wingspan and challenge his own tackle radius.
Flexibility –Does well to play low through his gap when firing through in short yardage or in pass rush situations. Would like to see some more focus on leveraging in head up situations. Lateral mobility and lean are only modest and can be restrictive when looking to finish.
Pass Rush Counters –Potent pass rusher with several rush counters at his disposal. High caliber lift technique, as well as rip/club to shoot across the face of blockers in the pocket. Provides good interior push and is capable of collapsing the pocket with power. Active hands never stop moving.
First Step Quickness –Very sudden and can create a high amount of momentum in little to no time at all. Will explode out of stance and can beat back blocks and even favorable angles for OL when looking to drive out of his stance and into the mesh point. Helps him in short yardage as well as passing downs.
Feet/Change Of Direction –Momentum can be his best friend or his worst enemy at times, will overrun penetration plays and let the ball carrier slip away late. Is light footed and nimble but loses his explosiveness when trying to play side to side. Can improve coming to balance in an effort to increase finishes.
Versatility –Three down defender, but won’t be a fit for everyone without improvement in some areas. Currently projects best as a 3T penetration player tasked with getting into the gap and causing chaos. Length and thick frame suggest room for growth but development there will have unknown time table.
BEST TRAIT – Gap Penetration Skills
WORST TRAIT – Two Gap Ability
BEST FILM – Kentucky (2018)
WORST FILM – Florida (2018)
RED FLAGS – 2016 assault incident (hit a woman)
Jeffery Simmons is a disruptive interior defender who will make a muck of the pocket on passing situations and be an effective penetration tackle in the NFL. Simmons’ ceiling will be defined by how much better he can be at finishing plays and/or by how effective his teammates are and playing the same style of football. Simmons has high end explosiveness/length, which will come in handy in efforts to disrupt play between the tackles.
Get-off/Burst – Excellent reaction timing to the snap without jumping the count. Fires off the ball low and shows good consistency in his first step, even from a square stance. Has flashes of eye-popping snap anticipation where opposing lines cannot stop his penetration. Quick-twitch and overall speed for an interior defensive lineman is impressive.
Leverage – Pad level will swell at times, but typically maintains a low center of gravity and isn’t movable off the line of scrimmage. Clearly able to play with adequate knee bend and create knock-back at the point of attack, just has to make it consistent. Improved his technique this year to avoid getting knocked off the ball a few times a game. Even had decent success against doubles, splitting them with low pads and active hands, although that will probably never be his ideal role.
Hand Usage – As a pass rusher, consistently finds leverage points in 1v1 situations and at least creates a push. Powerful hands can create movement as a bull rusher or push-pull a defender off his frame. When his pad level swells, loses some of that effectiveness in his hands. As a run defender, worked off of contact better this year, but still doesn’t get full arm-extension/lockout on a snap-to-snap basis like some of his peers Raekwon Davis and Charles Omenihu. Ends up closer to body-to-body with blockers, although he still controlled space pretty well considering this flaw. Stacks blocks well, but shedding them cleanly is hit-or-miss.
Rush Plan/Counters – Almost always has a plan of attack off the snap as a rusher. Works his hands relentlessly, combining chops, clubs, push-pulls, bull rushes and swims to consistently make an impact as a rusher. Devastating hump move to toss blockers off balance. Saw tons of double teams playing heavy snaps as a 1-technique, but won most 1v1 exchanges to create pressure. 1 sack on the season is a deceiving number. Counters need work, currently too slow to work to a secondary move and needs to do a better job of stringing moves together to get in cleaner on the pocket.
Mental Processing/Block Recognition – Zone schemes couldn’t reach him most of the year. Did a better job of ID-ing blocks this year, but some doubles and down blocks still caught him by surprise at times. Would like to see the gears turn a little quicker as a pass rusher working move to move. Terrific job of IDing screens and finding the ball.
Range – Tackle-for-loss numbers are no joke. Combines penetration ability with the range to finish plays behind the line of scrimmage, even some away from his gap. Movement skills are impressive for an interior defensive lineman, but can take better, less aggressive angles to the ball at times.
Bend/Flexibility – Capable of running the arc to finish around an interior offensive lineman. Which he utilized the trait more as a pass rusher, but flashes in 2017 showed his ability to dip under punches around the corner and finish. I’ll have my eyes on his 3-cone for sure.
Tackling – His worst area by far. Simmons has to finish better in the NFL, both as a pass rusher and as a run defender. Frequently in great position to make plays, yet doesn’t close the deal. Production could have been even better if he’d tackled a little better. Fully capable, just let too many wriggle away this year.
Competitive Toughness – Physicality and motor are never in question. Will chase plays 20 yards down the field or pursue hard from the backside. Heralded as a leader on and off the field for Mississippi State who works relentlessly to better his craft.
Athleticism/Size – Terrific size and movement skills for the position. Arm length may be a little shorter than you’d like, but has all the physical and athletic tools to thrive in the NFL. Carries essentially zero bad weight on his frame, so weigh-ins will be intriguing.
BEST TRAIT – Burst
WORST TRAIT – Tackling/Finishing
RED FLAGS – 2016 assault incident before arriving at Mississippi State (hit a woman repeatedly while she was engaged in a brawl with his sister). Full story of that incident and Simmons’ making the most of his second chance here.
Few defensive linemen in college football were more impressive than Simmons this season, as he racked up tackles-for-loss and consistently pressured the pocket despite finishing with just one sack in 2018. His tools are clear, as Simmons possesses the power, explosiveness and hand work to win 1v1 exchanges up front, despite the inconsistency that still plagues him at times.
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.