When the Tennessee Titans selected Jeffery Simmons with the 19th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, it was evident that General Manager Jon Robinson and the team were building the defense for the future.
At the time of the draft, Simmons was recovering from a torn left ACL that he suffered while training for the NFL Combine. A healthy Simmons would have likely gone in the top 10, but he fell right into the Titans’ lap.
Jurrell Casey had been the anchor of the Titans’ defensive line for nine seasons prior to being traded away to the Broncos in return for a seventh round pick — a trade that could be likened to the Jackie Moon washing machine trade in return for Ed Monix in the movie Semi Pro.
In other words, the Casey trade stunned Titans fans. While Simmons showed flashes of greatness in rookie campaign, he only saw action in nine games. But even with a small sample size, Robinson displayed just how confident he is in Simmons by dealing Casey.
Simmons enters his second year in the NFL as the full time starter on the interior of the defensive line for the Titans. Unfortunately, the defensive line has been the Achilles heel for what has otherwise been a pretty solid defensive unit.
Although Simmons is only 23 years old, he is spending this offseason taking on a leadership role with the Titans. Even head coach Mike Vrabel is noticing Simmons’ growth.
“That’s been something that’s really exciting for me to watch, his maturity level,” said Vrabel. “His leadership with Daquan (Jones) in that room as well as on our defense — that’s been really positive, and obviously we’re excited about what he can bring as a player. But it’s all the other stuff: his studying, his understanding of our defense and our system, and I really think he’s been a great leader for that room and the effort in which he’s practiced with.”
Jeffery Simmons is making it clear that he is taking the leadership role on the #Titans seriously. He harped on running to the ball on every play, practicing hard as ways to set an example for the younger guys.
— TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_NFL) August 31, 2020
Titans fans will get their first look at what will be a fully healthy Jeffery Simmons on September 14 against the Denver Broncos. He will have had an entire offseason to work on his body, study in the film room, and put everything that he learned from Casey into practice. When the Titans take Empower Field at Mile High Stadium on Monday Night Football, Simmons will have as big an impact on the Titans’ defensive success as anybody.
Although he knows he has big shoes to fill after Casey’s departure. Simmons also understands it isn’t about being the next Jurrell Casey. “…Every snap on the field, I want to go full tilt, I want to be the best that I can be. I want to be the best Jeffery Simmons that I can be.”
Mike Vrabel said Jeffery Simmons’ GPS tracking data is revealing about his effort/conditioning. Said Simmons, who weighs around 310 pounds, was pushing 18 mph as he chased down a screen pass during practice. #Titans
— Erik Bacharach (@ErikBacharach) August 31, 2020
Featured image courtesy of Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire