Tennessee Titans 19th best option in the 2019 NFL Draft: Jeffery Simmons

STARKVILLE, MS - OCTOBER 21: Stephen Johnson #15 of the Kentucky Wildcats throws a pass as Jeffery Simmons #94 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs tries to defend during the first half of an NCAA football game at Davis Wade Stadium on October 21, 2017 in Starkville, Mississippi. (Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images)
STARKVILLE, MS - OCTOBER 21: Stephen Johnson #15 of the Kentucky Wildcats throws a pass as Jeffery Simmons #94 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs tries to defend during the first half of an NCAA football game at Davis Wade Stadium on October 21, 2017 in Starkville, Mississippi. (Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images) /

Starting the Tennessee Titans countdown to the 2019 NFL Draft.

Every day it feels stranger, but at this point the Tennessee Titans are just 19 days away from hosting the 2019 NFL Draft.

Rumors are swirling around on which teams like which players and we are fully in “lying season” around the NFL. So, just as a break from all of that let’s focus solely on what the Titans could and should do in the first round of the draft.

Before I start, these are the rules on I set when I was making my list:

Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams and Josh Allen will be gone barring a huge 1st round trade that is nearly impossible to imagine. They can’t be included in this list.

-Which of the players available specifically make the Tennessee Titans better.

-Don’t treat this as a big board, some positions won’t be brought up because there is no one talented enough that can come in and be an instant improvement over what the Titans already have.

-While long term help is important, consider what this player does for Tennessee short term and if they will help reduce the hit of free agent departures in the future.

Which player is the 19th best option for the Tennessee Titans in the 1st round?

Jeffery Simmons DT, Mississippi State

A lot of people are in love with Jeffery Simmons, and I do get that. I hate to be the pessimist in the room, but we all need to consider the reality of what Simmons is.

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Let’s get the negative out of the way

First of all, Simmons is going to give you nothing as a rookie. He tore his ACL during the pre-draft process and you don’t have to look any farther than Jack Conklin to see that even if that injury happens in January it puts you out for at least 9 months.

It is more than just an injury though. Everyone keeps saying, “Nowadays ACL injuries aren’t the death sentence that they used to be.” again, that is true but you aren’t telling the whole story. ACL injuries are nearly a guarantee to heavily impair your first season back.

Again, look at Jack Conklin. He had an outstanding rookie year and came back and was still above average in year two, but then he tore his ACL. Despite showing up to camp in great shape, he had his worst season as a pro and maybe the worst season of his career in 2018.

Think about how high nearly everyone reading this was on Conklin two years ago, now many of you don’t even want him to get the 5th year of his deal picked up. ACL injuries aren’t a joke and everyone needs to be honest and realize this is going to take away something from his career.

So just on that alone you are asking a guy to come in, sit out his rookie year and then come in and play at (maybe) 90% effectiveness on the second year of his deal. Now you are talking about having this player with two years left on his rookie contract and you don’t even know what he really is or can be.

You don’t have any athletic testing numbers on him and his college production was good, not great.

The other big issue is that he did have a pretty bad off the field incident before he entered the NFL. I don’t know the legality of what you can and can’t say, so I will just relay what CBS Sports said in this column:

"“Mississippi State announced it will allow Jeffrey Simmons to enroll and play football in 2016 even after he was videotaped hitting a woman in March.Simmons offered a lengthy apology on Facebook after the video, which graphically displayed the 6-foot-3, 277-pound five-star defensive lineman striking a woman several times, was posted to the Internet.”"

So the big concerns with Simmons are really this major injury and a pretty bad off the field incident in 2016. This is all ugly stuff so let’s go ahead and move on.

Now for the glass half full

Alright, pessimistic rant over. Let’s talk about why he would be a good pick for the Tennessee Titans.

Since I ended with the character concerns, let me also give the other side of the story. From everything you read and hear, that is not a good representation of what Jeffery Simmons is as a person. Saturday Down South had this quote from Dan Mullen who was his head coach for two of his three years in the SEC:

"““Now, several years later,” Mullen said, “you look at him, the type of career he has not just as a football player, his impact on the community, the type of success he’s had in the classroom and the type of person he is in the classroom, I think a lot of people look back and say, ‘Hey, I think we made the right decision by giving him the opportunity to go to Mississippi State.’””"

I don’t want to gloss over the video, but people make mistakes. It sounds like he has been an upstanding citizen, student and athlete so while I expect whichever team that drafts him will do a very thorough investigation of his past, it seems like it will come back clean.

If his character checks out, then there is reason to think he is worth a gamble for the player.

I don’t know if I agree that he is a top-5 player in this class like most people say because there are some pretty dang good players in this class. However, I will say that he is one of the rare exceptions of a 1-tech who makes a real, quantifiable difference in football games.

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He probably isn’t going to be a guy who racks up 5+ sacks per year like Ndamukong Suh does on the inside, but he good very well be a guy who moves QBs into the arms of EDGEs and other defensive playmakers.

In fact, if he was healthy he would probably be in the top-5 of this list simply because he does fill a big need for the Titans and that is to find a player who can create interior disruption on a regular basis.

I don’t really know a good comparison for him because you rarely see 1-techs with his body type, but at 6’4, 301 lb. he has a great build for the position and he would make this team much better both vs the pass and vs the run.

Health is the biggest concern and when big guys get knee injuries it just scares me knowing the kind of battling they have to do in the trenches. This is a pick I would give a “C-” or so because while people rave about it on paper, they will be the same people who call it a miss in two years when he is coming off of his first season in the NFL where he will likely struggle.

Is he the best you can do at 19 in terms of a short and long term bet? Probably not, but if you want a pure upside pick and feel comfortable that you can have him ready to actually play at 100% in 2020 then you could definitely do worse with this pick.