With Jeffery Simmons fully recovered from a torn ACL, Titans fans should be excited to see how the first-round pick will perform in 2020.
We are nearly a year removed from the Commissioner standing in Nashville announcing that the Tennessee Titans had selected Jeffery Simmons with the 19th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t thrilled with this pick at first. After all, he had torn his ACL only two months prior to the Titans selecting him and it wasn’t exactly a position of need.
Simmons would start the season on the non-football injury list, and finally made his NFL debut in Week 7 against the Los Angeles Chargers. He wasted no time showing why people said he was worth a first round pick even if you had to “redshirt” him, collecting 4 tackles and 1 sack in his first NFL game.
Maybe more importantly than his stat line, Simmons gave the Titans one of the best goal line performances seen in recent history. In his first game the rookie caused a false start, contributed to a tackle for loss, and stood up the offensive linemen allowing a forced fumble that won the game for the Titans. And that was all in a four play stretch.
Just months removed from a serious injury, Simmons was quickly making an impact as a rookie. It was easy to see how some people thought Simmons would’ve been a top five pick if not for the injury and why the Titans were confident in taking value over need there.
Simmons finished his rookie season with 32 tackles and 2 sacks, with only 9 games played. That is a respectable stat line for a full season, so imagine how impressive it is that he did it in a shortened season coming off of (what should be) a 24 month injury.
I think it’s safe to say with Simmons being healthy and having a full offseason ahead of him, he could be in for a monster sophomore season.
For reference, let’s take a look at a couple players similar to Simmons: Fletcher Cox and Chris Jones. Like Simmons, Cox and Jones were also defensive linemen from Mississippi State selected with high picks in their respective drafts.
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Cox entered the league in 2012 and had a respectable rookie season. In 2013, his sophomore season, he would end up with 41 tackles and 3 sacks. However, it was year 3 for Cox that would start to show his potential. Cox would go on to either be selected to the Pro Bowl, or be voted an All-pro in every season from 2014-2019.
Jones made the All-Rookie team in 2016, and followed it up with an even better sophomore season in 2017, which Titan fans are hoping will be the case with Simmons in 2020. In 2018, Jones exploded and ended up with 15.5 sacks, an insane stat for a defensive tackle in today’s NFL. Jones made the Pro Bowl in 2019 after another solid year, and is now cemented as a top DT in the NFL.
So two defensive tackles from Mississippi State who were drafted highly, and recently, have proven to be star NFL players and some of the best at their position. These are encouraging signs for the career progression of Jeffery Simmons.
Granted, neither one of these two players dealt with the same injury as Simmons, but ACL injuries aren’t the career-enders they once were. I believe Simmons showed that he is passed his setback.
If you want to get really excited there is a lot of logic behind the idea that Simmons was never fully back to 100% and that he basically came off of the bench banged up and without any real practice time and was still instantly one of the best rookies in the class.
Now let’s take a look at the respective sophomore seasons of Jones and Cox for reference.
Cox finished with 41 tackles and 3 sacks while Jones his second year with 32 tackles and 6.5 sacks.
Because Jeffery Simmons has shown to be an absolute tackling machine, I expect him to collect more tackles than Cox or Jones did in their second seasons. Let’s just say, assuming a full 16 games, I will expect Simmons to get around 60 tackles in 2020.
As for sacks, Simmons is deceptively quick and can be a dangerous interior pass-rusher. I expect his 2 sacks from 2019 to be increased to about 5 or 6 in 2020.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Simmons blows past my projections. Nobody expected him to have much of an impact in 2019, and we were all wrong. I fully expect 2020 to be Big Jeff’s coming out party and after the season, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear Simmons mentioned among the league’s best defensive linemen.