Jeffery Simmons

Titans Reach 53-Man Limit

The Titans reached the 53-man limit on Saturday, mostly via cuts. They did, however, free up one roster spot by trading Taywan Taylor to the Browns.

Among the more notable cuts – quarterback Logan Woodside, running back Jeremy McNichols, and offensive lineman Corey Levin.

Here’s the complete rundown of the Titans’ Saturday slashing:

Waived/released:

OL Hroniss Grasu
OL Austin Pasztor
TE Ryan Hewitt
DB Kenneth Durden
DB D’Andre Payne
DB JoJo Tillery
DB Michael Jordan
DB Kareem Orr
DB LaDarius Wiley
DL Chris Nelson
DL Braxton Hoyett
DL Frank Herron
DL Amani Bledsoe
LB Derick Roberson
LB Ukeme Eligwe
LB Quart’e Sapp
LB LaTroy Lewis
LB Eric Cotton
OL A.T. Hall
OL Aaron Stinnie
OL Corey Levin
OL Tyler Marz
P Austin Barnard
QB Logan Woodside
RB Akeem Hunt
RB Jeremy McNichols
RB Alex Barnes
TE Parker Hesse
WR DeAngelo Yancey
WR Anthony Ratliff-Williams
WR Papi White
WR Cody Hollister
WR Tanner McEvoy

Reserve/NFI:
DL Jeffery Simmons

Suspended:
LT Taylor Lewan

Latest On Jeffery Simmons’ Recovery

Despite two major issues that damaged his draft stock, DT Jeffery Simmons was selected by the Titans with the No. 19 overall pick of this year’s draft. When team owner Amy Adams Strunk signed off on the selection, that helped Simmons put one of those issues, an assault against a woman that Simmons committed while in high school, in the rearview mirror. And now, Simmons is a little closer to overcoming his second hurdle, a torn ACL that he suffered in February.

In early June, Simmons told Erik Bacharach of the Nashville Tennessean that he had not yet started running or jogging. He said, “I’m not rushing anything. If I don’t play this year, I’m fine with it, but my goal is to get healthy on my time and on this team’s time. There’s no time limit [on] when I can come back. Every day I come to work, I’m putting my mindset, you know, ‘I want to get back today.’ That’s how I come to work everyday and try to get better.”

But Simmons recently posted to his Instagram account a clip of himself running across a football field (h/t Titans Tape on Twitter). The clip is not long, and much of it is in slow motion, but the fact that he has been cleared to run is a major step in the right direction.

Of course, as Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk points out, the fact that Simmons is running in a straight line does not mean that he will be ready to hit the practice field when training camp opens next month. He likely won’t be cleared until the end of the regular season, and depending on where the Titans are in the playoff race at that point, he may ultimately miss his entire rookie campaign. But progress is progress, and Tennessee is doubtlessly encouraged by this latest development.

The Titans’ D-line is still a bit thin outside of star Jurrell Casey, and Simmons’ presence could go a long way towards bolstering that unit.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Titans Sign First-Round DT Jeffery Simmons

The Titans have signed first-round defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons, the club announced today.

Simmons was widely viewed as one of the best players in the 2019 class, but a number of issues forced him to fall until midway through the first round. First and foremost, the Mississippi State product was arrested for assaulting a woman during his senior year of high school (Simmons claims he was attempting to stop said woman from striking his sister). Second, Simmons tore his ACL in February, meaning he won’t be able to play for the Titans until late in 2019 or potentially 2020.

Once he is medically cleared, Simmons will join a Titans defensive line that boasts a start in Jurrell Casey but could still use a reinforcement. Casey led the Titans’ defensive line by ranking 14th in Pro Football Focus‘ positional grades, but no other Tennessee interior defender finished inside the top-45. As a unit, the Titans front four ranked just 22nd in adjusted sack rate and 28th in adjusted line yards, per Football Outsiders.

As is standard for every first-round pick, Simmons will sign a four-year deal with a fifth-year option for the 2022 season. Per Over the Cap, Simmons’ four-year pact should have a value of roughly $12.664MM. He’ll collect a signing bonus of $7.23MM and will count for $2.303MM on Tennessee’s 2019 salary cap.

The Titans now have only two draft choices who remain unsigned: second-round receiver A.J. Brown and third-round guard Nate Davis.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Titans Owner Signed Off On Simmons Pick

In addition to a torn ACL, Mississipi State defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons gave many teams pause in the 2019 NFL Draft due to an assault of a woman while he was in high school. The Titans eventually made him the No. 19 pick in the draft, a selection that was cleared by team owner Amy Adams Strunk, Pro Football Talk’s Darin Gantt writes

Jon [Robinson] and Mike [Vrabel] came to me months ago, and we discussed since then,” Strunk said, via Erik Bacharach, of the Nashville Tennessean. “We watched the video together, and it begins with trust from Mike and Jon that I was able to get comfortable. They were both very respectful that I needed to be comfortable, because at the end of the day, I have the final decision.

“We all can look back on our lives in high school and wish we’d done things differently. You can talk, ‘I’m sorry,’ but the best thing is, is that he’s lived the life of, ‘I’m truly sorry and I’m going to be a good man.’ And so that made it really easy for me to become comfortable with Jeffery. And we’re getting a great football player, that goes without saying, but we’re getting a great man. Our locker room is so important, and we only have good men in there. And this young man is a good man.”

The incident, which happened in 2016 and involved Simmons striking a woman multiple times on the ground, happened while the defensive tackle was in high school, before he enrolled at Mississippi State. Due to the incident, many teams reportedly took the talented tackle completely off their draft boards. Simmons was touched by the remarks of his new team’s owner.

“I mean, coming from a woman, . . . like I said, I made that mistake,” Simmons said. “I regret it. Just to hear her say all that, I’m grateful. Key word she said was trust. [I’ll] tell her in front of you guys that she can trust me. I won’t let her down. I won’t let either one of you guys [Robinson and Vrabel] down. I’m grateful.”

Though one of the most talented defenders in the draft, Simmons could miss his entire rookie season with that torn ACL.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Rumors: Bush, Redskins, Rams

Let’s round up the latest draft rumors in advance of tonight’s main event:

  • We heard several days ago that the Falcons were interested in trading into the Top 10, and that they had their sights set on defensive linemen like Christian Wilkins and offensive linemen. Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network confirms that Atlanta is indeed interested in moving up, but his sources say the club’s target is actually linebacker Devin Bush (Twitter link). Per Pelissero, the Falcons would need to leapfrog the Broncos, who hold the No. 10 overall pick, to assure themselves of landing Bush.
  • Despite all of the rumors suggesting that the Redskins are interested in making a big trade up into the Top 5, Pro Football Talk says that all of the calls that team president Bruce Allen are making are just an example of Allen being Allen and that Washington doesn’t really have a desire to make a move (Twitter link).
  • Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets that the Rams, who hold the No. 31 overall pick in tonight’s draft, have received a number of calls from teams wanting to trade into the back end of the first round. First-rounders, of course, can be kept under club control for five years instead of four.
  • As Pelissero notes in a separate tweet, the teams that have shown the most interest in trading down from their current first-round slots are the Jets (No.3), Lions (No. 8), Dolphins (No. 13), Seahawks (Nos. 21 & 29), and Rams (No. 31).
  • If Kyler Murray should start to fall down the draft board, he may end up having a better financial future in baseball. As Albert Breer of SI.com notes, MLB’s Oakland A’s have offered him a $14MM “sweetener” on top of the $4.6MM bonus he was already due after the club drafted him last year, for a total of $18.66MM. That number would land between the 10th and 11th overall picks in tonight’s NFL draft, so if Murray ends up falling that far, teams are concerned that he would return to the diamond. But Breer still thinks that Murray will be the No. 1 overall pick tonight.
  • Breer calls Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons the most interesting prospect in the draft. He is one of the top defensive players in his class, but the troubling video showing him striking a woman in high school, along with his ACL tear, have completely removed him from some teams’ draft boards. But there is still a good chance that he will be selected in the first round tonight.
  • The Panthers and Vikings are both very serious about addressing their needs along the offensive line with early draft picks, as Breer notes in a separate piece. Both clubs used a high number of top-30 visits on O-linemen.
  • LSU cornerback Andraez “Greedy” Williams is perhaps the most talented corner in the draft, but as Breer notes, he comes with plenty of red flags concerning his toughness, work ethic, and personality. He did not make a single pre-draft visit, and despite his upside, he could slip out of the first round.

West Draft Rumors: Cardinals, Murray, 49ers, Broncos

On Saturday, Arizona State receiver and local product N’Keal Harry visited the Cardinals for a private visit, NFL Network’s Ian Rappoport tweets.

Possessing the size, strength and speed of a prototypical outside receiver, Harry could be an option for Arizona should he still be on the board when the team is on the clock at No. 33. Harry should fully be in play there, as the Cardinals reportedly like the value of going receiver with their second-round pick, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller tweets.

Should the team go with Harry, it would pair him with another local standout in Christian Kirk, who impressed as a rookie before missing time with an injury down the stretch. The pair of young wideouts would join veteran and future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald in a potentially loaded receiver corps for either Josh Rosen or Kyler Murray, should the team go with the Oklahoma product as expected a week before the draft.

Here’s more draft talk from around the league:

  • Sticking with the Cardinals, though the team has been heavily linked to Murray, Kent Somer of the Arizona Republic believes the team should pass on the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. He thinks the team should stick with Rosen, attempt to trade down to pick up more picks, and, if that option is not possible, take either Quinnen Williams or Nick Bosa.
  • Speaking of Williams, many NFL executives reportedly prefer the Alabama defensive lineman to Ohio State’s Bosa as the draft’s top overall prospect, Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk writes. In a poll of 14 personnel members by Bob McGinn, six chose Williams as the top picks, twice as many as Bosa, who received the second most. Also receiving votes were Josh Allen, Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins and Jeffery Simmons.
  • The Broncos have been heavily tied to quarterback’s heading into this week’s draft. Helping pick that signal-caller, if they do indeed go that route, is new offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello, who learned how to pick the position from 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, the Denver Post’s Ryan O’Halloran writes“Kyle had a lot of success (evaluating quarterbacks) and (he) showed me some things that I use in the evaluation process,” Scangarello said. “It’s a tough position to evaluate. You just get them in (the meeting room) and you try and find out what you can about them.” Denver has been linked with Drew Lock, but Daniel Jones, Murray and Dwayne Haskins could all fit the bill at No. 10 if everything falls right.
  • The 49ers have been heavily tied to either Bosa or Williams with the No. 2 pick on Thursday, but the team is looking to the skill positions for their Round 2 pick, NBC Sports’ Matt Maiocco writes. At the top of the list is wide receiver, where they are looking to find a starter-level pass catcher to complement second-year wideout Dante Pettis and veteran Marquise Goodwin. Maiocco notes the receivers who have been in for a visit include Harry, A.J. Brown, Hakeem Butler, Jalen Hurd and Deebo Samuel.

 

 

Draft Notes: Simmons, 49ers, Patriots, Jets

Linked to both Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. this offseason, which involved extensive talks about a deal for the latter Pro Bowl wide receiver, the 49ers are shifting their focus to draft-eligible wideouts. They have been closely tied to Nick Bosa with their No. 2 overall pick, but at No. 36, wide receivers appear to be on San Francisco’s radar. Receiver prospects N’Keal Harry and Deebo Samuel intrigue the 49ers, with Matt Miller of Bleacher Report indicating on his Stick to Football podcast (via NBC Sports Bay Area) that the team is zeroing in on one of these two — with the Arizona State product perhaps grading slightly higher than the South Carolina alum — with their second-round pick. Both players have met with the 49ers, with Samuel working with Kyle Shanahan‘s staff at the Senior Bowl. The 49ers cut Pierre Garcon this offseason and have Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis sitting as the top wideouts on the roster. That may change by Day 2 of the draft.

Here is the latest from the draft world:

  • Jeffery Simmons‘ pre-draft tour continues to take shape. The Mississippi State-developed defensive lineman traveled to Indianapolis for his Combine recheck, due to the ACL tear he suffered while preparing for the draft, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets positive reviews emerged regarding Simmons’ recovery. Following the Indianapolis trip, Simmons has visits with the Cardinals and Dolphins lined up, Rapoport adds. Simmons’ Browns meeting has already occurred, according to Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. Simmons, who finished with 18 tackles for loss last season, is expected to miss the 2019 season but was viewed as a surefire first-round pick prior to his knee injury.
  • Three pass-catching prospects visited the Patriots on Thursday. Samuel joined wideout A.J. Brown and tight end Noah Fant on the visit, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). Having lost Rob Gronkowski and with Julian Edelman entering his age-33 season, the Patriots are in need of aerial weaponry aid. New England has added Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Bruce Ellington and Maurice Harris this offseason. There will certainly be more additions to Tom Brady‘s receiving corps, through the draft and/or trades.
  • Is D.K. Metcalf‘s stock slipping? The other Ole Miss wide receiver prospect wowed those in attendance at the Combine but never surpassed 650 yards in a season with the Rebels. While he has been mocked in the first round consistently, Albert Breer of SI.com surveyed some teams who would not use a first-round pick on the physical specimen. Metcalf ranks as the No. 19 overall prospect (and No. 2 wideout) on Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com’s big board. Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN’s latest mock (Insider link) has Metcalf going to the Packers at No. 12.
  • While pass rusher looks like the Jets‘ biggest need, the team appears to believe cornerback resides higher in its deficiency queue than the offensive line, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News notes. The Jets made a bigger splash on their offensive front this offseason, in acquiring Kelechi Osemele, but did not make big bids for UFA centers. The Jets graded as Football Outsiders’ worst line, per the adjusted line yards metric, last season. New York lost Buster Skrine and has not made an effort to bring back Morris Claiborne. And buyer’s remorse may be setting in on the Jets’ Trumaine Johnson signing, pointing to Gang Green being in on corners come draft weekend.
  • The 49ers will host defensive end prospect Brian Burns in the coming days, the Florida State-honed prospect said during an appearance on Chris Simms Unbuttoned (via NBC Sports Bay Area) the 49ers are on his visit list. It would appear Burns, projected as a first-rounder, would be a 49ers option only if they traded out of their No. 2 overall slot.

Browns Rumors: Hunt, Simmons, Draft, OBJ

The Browns are asking the NFL to allow Kareem Hunt to remain with the team during his eight-game suspension, a source tells Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer. Players are typically banned from the team facility and all activities during personal conduct policy suspensions, but the club is looking for an exemption in Hunt’s case.

Given Hunt’s history, this could be an uphill battle for the Browns. While we wait for developments on that front, here’s more from Cleveland:

  • It sounds like GM John Dorsey will consider Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons in the upcoming draft, despite his red flags. “I think from your standpoint, what you should do is you should talk to the coaches and the support system at Starkville, Mississippi State, and just see what kind of man that guy really is,” Dorsey said (via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal). The Browns might not be able to land Simmons with their first pick at No. 49 overall, but trading up is always a possibility.
  • Dorsey expects Odell Beckham Jr. to arrive in Cleveland for the start of the voluntary offseason program on Monday, April 1 (via Cabot). “He’s excited,’’ Dorsey said. “There’s a genuine excitement there. There’s familiarity with some teammates. There’s familiarity with his position coach. I’m sure he’s … he’s got a relationship with Baker so I’m sure he’s excited to be part of this new beginning for him.’’

Extra Points: 49ers, Coaching Staffs, Zorn

Matt Barrows of The Athletic believes the 49ers would jump at the chance to trade for Odell Beckham Jr. if the Giants actually make him available, but Barrows is more skeptical about San Francisco’s interest in Antonio Brown. It has been rumored that Brown’s preferred destination is the 49ers, but Barrows says San Francisco would only be a serious suitor for Brown if the Steelers’ trade demands are modest. Of course, we recently heard that Pittsburgh may not get more than a third-round pick for AB, so maybe that is modest enough for the Niners to take the plunge.

Now for more from around the NFL (and XFL):

  • In the same piece linked above, Barrows writes that the 49ers must re-sign guard Mike Person, and he says the club plans to meet with Person’s agent at the Scouting Combine this week.
  • Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that the Giants are expected to hire Everett Withers as their new DBs coach. Withers spent the last three seasons as the head coach of Texas State and had previously agreed to become the defensive coordinator for Florida International in 2019. He will take over for Lou Anarumo, who left Big Blue to become the Bengals’ DC.
  • Former Bengals RBs coach Kyle Caskey will join the Lions in the same capacity, per Aditi Kinkhabwala of the NFL Network (via Twitter). It is a logical hire for Detroit, as Caskey did good work in his five years coaching Cincinnati’s running backs.
  • Colts WR Marcus Johnson, an exclusive rights free agent, has been cleared to resume football activities, Johnson himself tweeted. Johnson was placed on IR in October.
  • Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons is not at this week’s Scouting Combine in Indianapolis due to his surgery to repair a torn ACL (plus, while he would have been permitted to participate in limited interviews and undergo medical testing, he was banned from participating in drills). However, Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network tweets that Simmons will attend the medical recheck in Indianapolis in April, which will give interested clubs the chance to see how his recovery is progressing.
  • Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk points out an odd quirk in the league’s rule concerning a prospect’s eligibility to fully participate in the Scouting Combine. Since the ban on drills that players like Simmons have faced only encompasses convictions, that means that players who have not been convicted of a crime but who are still facing potentially serious charges — like Wyoming DE Carl Granderson — are allowed to participate in all aspects of the Combine. Of course, current NFL players may face league discipline even if they avoid legal repercussions for their misdeeds, so Florio believes the rule banning prospects only if they have been convicted of a crime should be eliminated.
  • Appearing on The Mighty 1090 (audio link), draft guru Tony Pauline expressed his belief that Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray will definitely be drafted in the first round; it is merely a question of where in the first round he will fall.
  • Former Redskins head coach Jim Zorn, who also served as the quarterbacks coach for five different NFL clubs, has been named the head coach and GM of the XFL’s Seattle franchise, the league announced via Twitter.

NFL Allows Banned Prospects To Interview

The NFL will allow Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons, Louisiana Tech defensive end Jaylon Ferguson, and Colorado State wide receiver Preston Williams to participate in “limited interviews” at the NFL Draft Combine, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). Those three players are still barred from participating in drills, but they will be allowed to speak with teams and undergo medical testing

However, the news doesn’t do much for Simmons, a projected first round pick. Simmons will not be able to attend the combine because of to his ACL, so clubs will have to wait before speaking with him (Twitter link).

For Ferguson and Williams, this is potentially good news. All three players were barred from doing drills at the combine due to red flags, but they’ll have an opportunity to clear the air with interested clubs.

Simmons, who stands 6’4″, 300 pounds, appeared in 37 total games in his three-year career with the Bulldogs, managing 159 tackles (30.5 for loss), six sacks, and five forced fumbles during that time. He was named first-team All-SEC in both 2017 and 2018, and this season won the Conerly Trophy as the top college football player in the state of Mississippi. He had buzz as a top-15 selection, but the ACL tear he suffered in training could lower his ceiling.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.