Of all the prospects you’ll read about this draft season, I’m beginning to doubt you’ll see a more polarizing name than Mississippi State’s Jeffery Simmons. In most polarizing cases, the player falls into one of two categories: a guy with an injury history or a guy with off-the-field issues.
In the case of Simmons? It’s both.
In 2016, a video surfaced that shows Simmons striking a woman repeatedly. Then, just a couple of months ago, Simmons tore his ACL, meaning he’ll miss his entire rookie season. If not for these two pieces of information, Simmons would have been a unanimous top-5 pick — which begs the question:
What in the world do you do with a player like that?
College stats: 38 games, 163 total tackles, 33 TFL, 7 sacks
Jeffrey Simmons did not participate in drills at the combine
In fairness to Simmons, it’s worth pointing out that everyone at Mississippi State seems to be going out of their way to speak positively about Simmons. That doesn’t diminish what the video shows him doing (you can learn more about his response and explanation here), but it is worth noting.
As far as the injury goes, it’s also worth noting that in three seasons Simmons didn’t miss a game other than the one game he was suspended for (gotta love the SEC). Still, missing an entire season isn’t “nothing” (especially considering you don’t get that year of control back) and you have to wonder how he’ll come back from such a massive injury.
All that said, when the whistle blows this dude is a beast. Simply put, guys that big and that athletic don’t grow on trees, and so despite the injury and the ugly background, I think the Raiders need to take a serious look at Simmons on draft day.
One reason I think the Raiders are in a unique situation is because of their wealth of draft capital. With four picks in the top 35, it means the Raiders could afford to spend one of those picks on a guy who won’t be contributing immediately — but who would definitely be in the long-term plans of the organization. A couple of weeks ago this seemed like a more defensible angle, given that many believed the future — but not necessarily the present — was bright for the Raiders.
And then they went crazy in free agency and traded for Antonio Brown. Would the Raiders still be interested in drafting a guy who won’t help this year? In my world, the answer should be “yes.” Even if they draft a guy at No. 27 who’s healthy this season, there’s no guarantee he’ll pan out in the long run — so why not take the high-percentage player who carries some red flags?