Simmons Falling? | Pretty Penny v. Bargain Buy

Photo: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to this week's edition of Pretty Penny v. Bargain Buy! If you’re new to the game — welcome! The rules are pretty simple:

Every Thursday, I’ll shoot out a Tweet asking for your Pretty Penny v. Bargain Buy match-ups. A match-up includes two players who play at the same position, but will likely get drafted it different rounds. The higher ranked player is the Pretty Penny, and the cheaper player is the Bargain Buy. I’ll take a few match-ups and break them down in-depth as to why I prefer one player over the other, and then I’ll rip through some rapid-fire ones at the end.

Using this value-based paradigm of evaluating draft picks is a helpful way to look at the draft. It shows us where positional classes might be weaker or stronger; how players in similar molds, but at different degrees of development, should be understood; which positions require high investment, and which can be found at later picks.

We’ll be back here every Friday, so make sure you’re following me (@BenjaminSolak) and The Draft Network (@DraftNetworkLLC) on Twitter to get your match-ups in for next week’s column!

2/1: Never Skimp On Corners

2/8Placing the Ole Miss Wideouts


Florida State EDGE Brian Burns (Round 1) v. Alabama EDGE Christian Miller (Round 4)

Ah, someone listened to my latest Twitch stream with Kyle, during which I gushed about Christian Miller, the Alabama EDGE. Dude is 12 types of studly.

For those who are unfamiliar with Miller, Brad did a really nice job writing up his situation before the Senior Bowl. Miller has had multiple injuries bite into his playing time and raw statistics, and it's tough to ignore the lingering nature of hamstring injuries in edge-bending OLB prospects like Miller. The dude can absolutely run under a table to attack the pocket, and has modeled that elite trait on multiple occasions -- but how available will he be for you?

We've seen injury prone EDGEs make their way to Round 4 before. Josh Sweat from Florida State is a good example from last class; Carl Lawson to the Bengals in 2017 is another example. Maybe Miller is that guy, and even if he doesn't pan out like Lawson did in Year 1, the gamble is still worth it. That high of upside, at that important of a position? Sign me up.

It's tough to say good-bye to Brian Burns, my EDGE2 and a Top-10 player in this class. Burns is worth every single pick in the first round after Nick Bosa and Quinnen Williams are selected, and I'm not sure how I can pass up on his value in the teens or twenties. Burns has the same mouth-watering cornering ability that Miller does, but he also brings much more developed hand counters to the table, so he can really threaten offensive tackles with two-way goes.

That's huge for Year 1 success -- something Miller likely won't have, as a subpackage player.

As it stands, I really just can't say no to Miller in Round 4. Round 3 would have made this a much tighter battle.

Bargain Buy: Alabama EDGE Christian Miller (Round 4)


South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel (Round 2) v. Oregon WR Dillon Mitchell (Round 4)

Quick: list your top, oh, six or seven wideouts for this class. Doesn't have to be perfect, or in order. Just go.

Most lists will include Ole Miss' D.K. Metcalf, Arizona State's N'Keal Harry, and NC State's Kelvin Harmon. You might find Stanford's JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Iowa State's Hakeem Butler, Ole Miss's A.J. Brown, and Georgia's Riley Ridley.

See the common thread?

This WR class is not wanting for size. It has more than enough high-point, contested catch, catch radius guys. And relatively, the pool of dedicated slot guys, ideal YAC threats, the "short-target" players, seems thin.

So we have to figure out where to place these players, like Oklahoma's Marquise Brown, Missouri's Emanuel Hall, UMass' Andy Isabella, and yes, South Carolina's Deebo Samuel and Oregon's Dillon Mitchell.

I think Deebo is the best of the lot, comfortably -- I'm low on Hollywood Brown, though that speed certainly gives him a high floor. With natural vision, multiple ways to break angles/tackles, and a fully-developed and pro-ready route tree, Samuel also brings better downfield ability than many of the other slot/separator/YAC types in this class.

With a good Combine, Samuel could play himself into Round 1 conversation -- somewhere he'd already be, if not for his injury history. For teams in need of WR help, but already with a strong outside receiver (Philadelphia, Tennessee, Dallas, Detroit), Samuel could be one of their most-coveted WR targets.

Now, I also like Mitchell at the Round 4 value. He was my WR to watch in preseason evals for the Pac-12, and returned on my optimism with a strong season as the primary Oregon target. Nobody challenged future first-round corner Byron Murphy like Mitchell did in the Oregon-Washington match-up, as Mitchell's freedom of motion and snappy routes forced Murphy into recovery mode more often than not. Mitchell has some good length to him as well, and can snag the football away from his frame.

There are ball-tracking concerns with Mitchell that are tough to ignore, whereas Samuel's game has a really high floor, assuming medicals check out in Indy. I think I like the Round 2 value on Samuel too much to ignore.

Pretty Penny: South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel (Round 2)


Clemson iDL Christian Wilkins (Round 1) v. Mississippi State iDL Jeffery Simmons (Round 2)

Really good question -- and one that will almost undoubtedly be debated on Draft Day. Great match-up.

Placing Simmons is a tricky business. As Trevor wrote well earlier this week, we can look at other prospects injured during the training process as good barometers for where Simmons' injury may knock his stock. Off of those examples, it looks like Simmons is a lock to go Round 2; maybe even in the front-half of the round.

But when I consider that Simmons was caught on video beating a woman in 2016, I have to think there's an extra consideration there.

We know that general managers are not so much concerned with a prospect's background as they are how high they can draft him without scrutiny. That's why Tyreek Hill went in the sixth round; Joe Mixon fell out of Round 1. It isn't a punishment for wrongdoings; it's a PR move, cover for general managers.

With Simmons, a general manager has to publicly justify drafting a player with Simmons' history who also can't even start the season. That's an extra oomph, and it could cause Simmons to fall.

On pure talent, I have a Round 1 grade on Simmons' film and a Round 2 grade on Wilkins'. Wipe away the context from Simmons' health and history, flip the round grades, and this is another difficult discussion.

As it stands, I'm not going to be upset with a player of Wilkins' caliber in Round 1, as long as we're outside the Top-15 selections. As a quasi-general manager in this role, I can't place where I'd draft Simmons yet: I have no details on his injury or recovery, and I haven't spoken to him about his past. That's a bit of a cop-out answer, but it's the best I can give.

Fascinating head-to-head, though.

Pretty Penny: Clemson iDL Christian Wilkins (Round 1)


Best of the Rest

Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins/Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray (Round 1) v. Boise State QB Brett Rypien (Round 4)

In actuality, if you're drafting a QB in Round 4, it's not to start -- so this is an apples-to-oranges comparison. But I'd take Rypien at this value without blinking.

Alabama RB Josh Jacobs (Round 1) v. Memphis RB Darrell Henderson (Round 3)

I typically go cheap on RBs, and Henderson is right on that Round 2/Round 3 seesaw on my grading scale currently. Dude's dynamite when he gets into space.

Notre Dame iDL Jerry Tillery (Round 1) v. Western Illinois iDL Khalen Saunders (Round 2)

A lotta upside here, but in different ways: Tillery just started showing flashes of what he was always meant to become, while Saunders has been gobbling up inferior competition. I think I'll gamble on Tillery's pedigree and strong senior tape.

Georgia TE Isaac Nauta (Round 2) v. Utah State TE Dax Raymond (Round 5)

If Raymond is still on the board in Round 5, I'll eat my hat.

New Mexico State LB Terrill Hanks (Round 3) v. Washington LB Ben Burr-Kirven (Round 5)

Why did you put the better player in the later round?

Written By:

Benjamin Solak

Director of Special Projects

Director of Special Projects and Senior NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network. Co-host of the Locked On NFL Draft Podcast. The 3-Wide Raven.

Connect: