From the where-are-they-now files, Ohio State had a familiar face at practice yesterday: Phil Savage. Yes, the former Browns general manager is back on his feet as executive director of the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. Here’s the scouting report he filed today on Buckeyes defensive end John Simon. Interesting take.
Courtesy of the Senior Bowl:
Tapes Viewed: 2011-Nebraska, Illinois, Michigan; 2012-Miami/OH, Central Florida, California, UAB
Practice Attended: Tuesday, September 25
Summary: John is a three-year starter at defensive end for the Ohio State Buckeyes. After playing as a backup in 2009, he has been in the lineup ever since and has tallied 122 total tackles, 32.5 tackles-for-loss and 13 sacks during his productive career.
On the hoof, he has more of a 3-4 outside linebacker build than classic DE frame. He is close to being maxed out weight-wise with a developed body overall. He has a compact upper with almost 32” arms and—for his height—is high-cut to a degree in the lower with sturdy legs and a bubble.
He generally aligns in a three-point stance as a DE in the Buckeyes’ 4-man front, however, they will have him stand up on occasion and rush through the A (guard/center) or B (guard/tackle) gaps in their “Joker” (Sub 3-man front) package.
Regardless of his assignment, this is a hard-charging, relentless competitor who simply does not quit. He has excellent initial and body quickness, but does have some lateral tightness when changing directions in space. He comes off the football in attack mode and his hands are combat ready. They are like a bundle of butcher knives for the opponent to handle and that is how he wins.
For the most part, John has success early in the down with his first-step takeoff and active hands or late in the down with his never-give-up attitude. Against the run, as a DE, he can get covered up at the point-of-attack because he simply does not have enough girth and length to do more than hold his own. If he projects to OLB and is over a TE, then he definitely has the physical strength and will to confront the blocker. On runs away, he stays disciplined and square to the line-of-scrimmage as he skates down the line and watches for the QB bootleg.
As a pass rusher, he specializes in hand-to-hand combat and, again, gives more effort than he has actual talent to race the edge. At times, he will charge upfield and try to run through the outside shoulder of his opponent or swat and rip to the inside or, simply, spin to the inside. He does get blocked and bottled up some, but this is a prospect that plays with purpose and a passion and always ends up near the action. He rarely drops off into coverage, yet looks to have enough movement ability to play the curl-to-flat zone.
For the NFL, John appears to project best as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Some scouts have speculated that he might be a Mike (inside linebacker) in the pros, however in this opinion, that move takes him away from what he does best which is his hand-fighting ability and urgency to get to the passer. To think that he can take on blockers from depth, disengage and then run to the perimeter is a tough call, but there is no doubt that he can align as a left OLB in the 3-4, defeat a TE in the run game or accelerate off the LOS and go hit the QB.
This player has some similar qualities to Kevin Greene, the former Rams/Steelers/Panthers’ star that “overachieved” during a 15-year/160-sack NFL career, in that both have outstanding upper strength and hands, straight-line acceleration and an overwhelmingly competitive nature. If Simon can find the right fit and stay healthy, he can enjoy the same kind of success; otherwise, he is still the kind of player and personality that would be welcomed to most any NFL team as a Sub pass rusher and special teams’ contributor with off-the-chart intangibles.
In one sentence, he is one of the fiercest competitors in all of college football.
What the NFL scouts want to see in 2012: John’s characteristics as a prospect are defined, so the next question will be to see him play on his feet at the Senior Bowl and in spring pre-draft workouts. In the meantime, developing a second “escape” move other than the spin to the inside will be important to him.