NFL execs believe Jeffery Simmons is elite and can get even better for Titans

Tennessee Titans superstar defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons recently earned rave reviews
Caroliina Panthers v Tennessee Titans
Caroliina Panthers v Tennessee Titans / Wesley Hitt/GettyImages

The wheel keeps turning for the Tennessee Titans as they try to break away from being stuck in the cycle of being defined by great running backs and great defensive tackles.

There is nothing wrong with having great tackles and running backs, but those are rarely the teams that win Super Bowls. However, the Titans are going to stay in that cycle for at least one more season as Jeffery Simmons takes the reins from Derrick Henry (who took them from Jurrell Casey, who took them from Chris Johnson, who took them from Albert Haynesworth, who took them from Eddie George) as Tennessee's most-recognizable player.

Titans fans are waiting and hoping that Will Levis becomes the guy who can finally break this cycle, but in the meantime, it isn't so bad when you have an elite 26-year-old force of nature holding things down in the middle of the defense.

Elite isn't just an adjective. The league realizes that Simmons is one of the best players in the game. On Tuesday, Jeremy Fowler shared who the executives, coaches, scouts, and GMs around the NFL believe are the 10 best defensive tackles.

It shouldn't come as any surprise, but Simmons was the consensus fourth-best defensive tackle in the NFL, and he received votes as high as No. 2 behind Chris Jones.

What is a little bit of a surprise is that some people around the NFL think that he could be even better this year. Look at these quotes:

"'When he's focused and sets out to make a lot of plays, he's pretty much unblockable,' a head scout with an NFL team said. 'I think he'll have a big year, similar to [Justin] Madubuike in that same Baltimore scheme last year.'

Added an NFL personnel evaluator: 'His power is probably the best in the
league. I don't think he's played his best recently, though.'"

Let's talk about that Madubuike jump for a second.

Last year Simmons was on pace to produce 62 tackles (career high), 14 TFLs (career high), 8 sacks (0.5 below his career high), and 16 QB hits (tied with his career high). Dennard Wilson was added to the Ravens' coaching staff last season, and Madubuike more than doubled his career sack total and his QB hits in a single season.

I don't expect Simmons to double his career output as a pass rusher, but if you aren't projecting Simmons to have 10+ sacks, 20+ TFLs, and 30+ QB hits, then you aren't giving Wilson's scheme enough credit.

Simmons has had to watch this team decay and spiral downward while playing a very conservative brand of defense over the past few seasons. Now Wilson is in the building preaching how the defense should be aggressive and attack on every play.

Changes to the defensive scheme should work wonders if Simmons. It also doesn't hurt that the Titans went and put together one of the best cornerback groups in the NFL by bringing in L'Jarius Sneed and Chidobe Awuzie to help Roger McCreary.

We know that the offense is going to pass the ball more this season and fans aren't going to be subjected to the run-heavy approach that nearly every coach in Titans history has preferred since the move to Nashville.

Levis and Brian Callahan are receiving the bulk of the attention, and rightfully so, but don't sleep on what this quietly talented defense can do. Don't ever make the mistake of sleeping on Simmons, who is shaping up to be one of the best defensive tackles of his generation.