Stop me if you have heard this one before, but Jeffery Simmons is one of the best players in the NFL and if Aaron Donald wasn’t around then everyone would recognize just how incredible the Tennessee Titans star is.
Well, the good news is that the public might be catching up if they are paying attention to ESPN. Right now ESPN is part of the way through a series of articles going position-by-position around the NFL and getting scouts to rank the best players.
On Wednesday they released their list of the best defensive tackles in the NFL, and Big Jeff was 2nd on their list jumping all the way up from 6th last season. The aforementioned Aaron Donald is the only defensive tackle ahead of Simmons and I think even the most die-hard Titans fans would agree that Donald is the best defender in the entire league.
You should go check out the article, but there were two big takeaways from his ranking. First, Simmons is 24 years old and he was the only DT on the list who is younger than 26. In fact, the average age of the other four players in the top-5 was 30 years old.
The future belongs to Jeffery Simmons and it is hard to believe just how physically imposing he is when he is still half a decade younger than most of the people who can call themselves his peers.
Jeffery Simmons looked transcendent when the Tennessee Titans defense was healthy
If you look at the games where Jeffery Simmons had three really good/great players around him, you can see just how good he can be. While Simmons is credited with “just” 8.5 sacks in that article, it doesn’t include the Tennessee Titans playoff game where he had 3 sacks. That just so happens to be the only game where Bud Dupree said he felt like he was at 100%, so imagine what an entire year of that would look like.
The reason I point this out is that the article mentions that the only small gripe that voters had about Simmons is that he wasn’t as good as a “pure pass rusher” as some of the other names on the list:
"“Some evaluators argue he’s not as pure a pass-rusher as some of the others listed here. But that’s nit-picking. His presence and power cause disruption.”"
He is credited as the best run-defending tackle on the top-10 list, and I would argue that posting 11.5 sacks in the season and postseason is a really good indicator that a 24-year-old defensive tackle might be good at rushing the passer.
Like the author said, it is nit-picking and you could say that Simmons isn’t as much of a finesse player as some lighter defensive tackles. However, I think that this is the beginning of a long streak of Simmons being ranked as one of the best (if not the best) defensive tackles in the NFL for the next decade.
Simmons is a player that is going to be one of the best at his position for a long time and that puts him in a similar light as guys like Kevin Byard and Derrick Henry who the Tennessee Titans have made an effort to lock-up long term.
As much as fans loved A.J. Brown, he was a really good receiver and he should have a great future ahead of him, but he wasn’t in the same tier as Byard, Henry, and Simmons. That is a big reason why I am not as worried about the Tennessee Titans getting a deal done with Simmons, even though I think it should happen sooner than later.