Big Ten Week of our 49 in 49 pre-draft series concludes with a look at a versatile and veteran defensive player from Ohio State.
In the changing landscape of the NFL, versatile players have become key parts of team's draft strategies. When it comes to versatility, John Simon certainly fits the bill.
Though he made his name as a relentless defensive lineman during his career at Ohio State, Simon's future position in the NFL is yet to be determined. At 6-foot-1, 257 pounds, Simon hounded opposing teams in the trenches during college, but he might be better served as a linebacker at the next level.
"I'm projected by some teams as an outside linebacker in a 3-4," Simon said. "That's just a standup D-end which I played a lot of at Ohio State. I'd definitely feel comfortable if a team wanted to put me in that position. I'd do whatever they want me to do. I'm not going to tell a coach no."
Aside from new head coach Urban Meyer, who turned Ohio State's program around from its 6-7 record to an undefeated 12-0 mark in 2012, Simon has also benefitted from the tutorship of former NFL veteran Mike Vrabel. During his 14-year NFL career that included three Super Bowl rings, Vrabel was used in a variety of roles on defense after excelling as a defensive end at Ohio State.
"I definitely know I'm going to have to be adaptable and do whatever I can do to help the team," Simon said. "Coach Vrabel taught us so much on the defensive line. I feel we're similar players. I've watched a lot of film on coach Vrabel and have seen how he handled different positions. He played standing up, with his hand down and a couple yards off the line."
Above all, Simon is known for his non-stop motor and work ethic in the weight room. Before he suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery shortly after the season ended, Simon claimed to have bench pressed 225 pounds more than 40 times, which would have been tops at the NFL Combine.
Instead, Simon had to sit out the Combine and Ohio State's Pro Day on March 8 until his shoulder was fit for action. On Monday, Simon reportedly held a private workout for 12 NFL teams, running the 40-yard dash in 4.68 and 4.73 seconds. While he didn't have the strength necessary to get back on the bench at his private workout, Simon's reputation as a workout warrior should help him make the next step.
"It's a big step and it comes with the same requirements as it did from high school to college and that's hard work," Simon said. "I'm rehabbing every day doing everything I can, coming in here trying to meet with some coaches and leave my mark and do everything I can to help myself out."
Despite suffering his shoulder injury in the second week of the season, Simon played through the pain and finished his senior year with First-Team All-Big 10 honors after racking up 44 tackles, nine sacks, 14.5 tackles for loss, and one forced fumble.
"I'm a true teammate who's going to help the team no matter what it takes and a guy who's going to go non-stop to the whistle for four quarters," Simon said. "Hopefully I'll get picked up by a team that really wants me and I can help out. … They're going to get the hardest worker on their team and a guy who's going to be loyal to the team."