The Pittsburgh Steelers had Ohio State defensive end / outside linebacker John Simon in for a pre draft visit on Monday, and once again, our scouting buddy Dave-Te\’ Thomas was kind enough to give us his detailed scouting report profile on him, which you can read below.
Defensive End/Outside Linebacker
The Ohio State University Buckeyes
Cardinal Mooney High School
Coming off their first losing season since 1988, the Buckeyes were expecting massive changes within the program that saw two head coaches depart within a twelve month period. The arrival of Urban Meyer was certain to bring a more wide open offensive attack, but for a defense that prided itself on “blue collar grunt types,” the staff wanted to get an infusion of speed into the lineup.
The first step in that process was to get star defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins to trim down his 340-pound frame. The second step was to move his tackle line-mate, John Simon, to the outside at the “Leo” rush end position. Usually, a defensive tackle is more of a stay-home type rather than one that spends most of his time in the opponent’s backfield.
Call it great foresight or just “mad” genius, but the move not only worked, team-wise, but also greatly enhanced Simon’s draft stock. Those that feared Simon’s performance would suffer after coming off a junior campaign that saw him rack up seven sacks and sixteen stops-for-loss, breathed a sigh of relief when they saw how his final season unfolded.
Despite playing in two less games than in 2011, due to Ohio State not being eligible for postseason competition, along with a late season knee injury that cost him to miss the season finale, Simon had perhaps his finest campaign. He led the Big Ten Conference with an average of 0.82 sacks per game (career-best nine) and ranked second in the league while averaging 1.32 tackles-for-loss (14.5 total) per game.
The fact that Simon has been such a disruptive force up front should not have come as a surprise to the new coaching staff, especially after the way he performed during his first two seasons in the starting lineup. While most scouts felt that Simon, who stands under 6:02, was a little too short and “lacking the sand in his pants” to play inside at the next level, the Buckeyes constantly faced quality offensive linemen, with Simon winning most of those battles during the 2010-11 campaigns.
Simon’s sixteen tackles behind the line of scrimmage as a junior tied for eleventh on the school season-record chart. He would close out his career with 43.0 stops-for-loss, tied with Jerome Foster (1979-82) for seventh in OSU annals. His 43.0 tackles behind the line of scrimmage also tied Travis Long of Washington State for the 12th-best figure among active players in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision ranks. His five stops-for-loss vs. Nebraska in 2012 tied the school game-record.
Simon generated 195 yards in loses behind those stops, the ninth-most ever by a Buckeye and tied for 16th among active FBS players. He is just the seventh player in school history to record twenty sacks in a career, tying Long for 14th among the active performers with 20.5 sacks. The senior recorded four of those sacks vs. Wisconsin in 2012, tying the school game-record. His lost yardage total of 36 vs. the Badgers was the fourth-best game mark by a Buckeye.
Simon is shorter than ideal for the classic 4-3 defensive end position, but has very good muscle development. He has a compact frame with a well-defined upper torso. He has good arm length and reach (32 ¾-inch arms/78 ¾-inch wing span)), showing the upper body strength to strike with force. He compensates for a lack of ideal height with good leverage and balance on the move.
Simon shows urgency moving down the line and has made good strides in improving his footwork dropping back in pass coverage (could be a good linebacker candidate in the 3-4 defense). When he plays with his hand down, he displays very good quickness off the snap and the suddenness to gain advantage over a lethargic blocker.
Simon uses powerful arm swipes with efficiency in defeating reach blocks and has a strong hand thrust to jolt offensive linemen coming out of their stance. His lateral agility allows him to play faster than his timed speed indicates. He also shows good flexibility changing direction and his low center of gravity prevents blockers from locking on and dragging him to the ground.
Even with less-than-ideal bulk, Simon is too combative for bigger blockers to simply lock on and wall him off. With his hand technique, along with a nice array of bull rush moves, he is capable of utilizing his strength to deliver a thud with his club and rip moves. He might lack the ideal size to face up to the larger blockers, but compensates with quickness off the snap that lets him get good penetration and disrupt the play.
Simon is very effective at dropping his weight and play with leverage, as he has a good feel for blocking schemes. Tight ends and offensive tackles found it very difficult to cover Simon up when he played on the edge in 2012, as he rarely lost containment. With his aggressive temperament and confidence in his arm strength, he has shown the ability to defeat any attempts to get into his chest.
His ability to play low in his pads prevents the blockers from washing him out when working in-line. His low center of gravity lets him get into the rush lane and push back the lead blocker to clog the holes.
Simon has developed a good feel for blocking schemes. He is quick to pick up offensive adjustments at the pre-snap and has that steady motor to give good effort until the whistle. He is not the type who can be fooled by play action or misdirection. He has a natural feel for the flow of the ball and despite size limitations; he is effective at sniffing out the play working through trash.
Simon is even quicker to react in passing situations, especially when given a clear lane. Even though he gives up considerable bulk and height when working in-line, he has the leverage and lower body strength to consistently make plays in the backfield as a bull rusher, or chasing down quarterbacks when firing off the edge.
Simon played at Cardinal Mooney High School in his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio, which made him a “natural fit” to one day become an Ohio State Buckeye. The two-time All-State selection was also named the state’s Division IV and Northeast Ohio\’s Defensive Player of the Year as a senior.
That season, he recorded 148 tackles, eleven sacks and had thirteen more stops behind the line of scrimmage to go with three forced fumbles. He helped Cardinal Mooney to three state title games and a regional semifinals appearance during his career before he played in the U.S. Army All-American game. A member of the National Honor Society and a Cardinal Mooney Ambassador, he went on to establish a slew of school weight-lifting records.
Simon contributed immediately upon suiting up for Ohio State. The team had a habit of red-shirting incoming freshmen in recent years, but his performance during fall camp convinced former head coach Jim Tressel that he could be an invaluable reserve in 2009. The Buckeyes ranked fifth in the nation in total defense (262.31 ypg) and compiled an 11-2 record, as the first-year left defensive tackle posted sixteen tackles that included 1.5 sacks and four stops-for-loss.
As a sophomore, Simon added ten pounds of pure muscle to his frame and wrested the left tackle position for the 2010 campaign. He received All-Big Ten Conference honorable mention after posting 41 tackles with three sacks and 8.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage. The Buckeyes compiled a 12-1 record that concluded with a Sugar Bowl win over Arkansas, as Simon’s ability to contain ball carriers saw OSU finish third in the nation in rush defense (96.69 ypg).
The Buckeyes suffered their first losing season since 1988 during Simon’s junior campaign, but the All-American and All-Big Ten Conference choice was the recipient of Ohio State\’s Bill Willis Award, given to the team\’s outstanding defensive player. He led the team with seven sacks and sixteen stops-for-loss while also recording a career-best 53 tackles from his left tackle slot.
Moved to the newly installed “Leo” position, much like his position coach, former New England All-Pro Mike Vrabel played during his Patriots days, Simon flourished as a senior, as he again led the team in sacks (nine) and tackles behind the line of scrimmage (14.5). His head coach Urban Meyer, publicly compared his defensive captain’s work ethic and leadership to Tim Tebow, his former quarterback at Florida, calling Simon a player who is “passionate about the game of football.”
The senior posted 45 tackles on the way to again being named an All-American and picking up All-Big Ten accolades before missing the season finale vs. Michigan with a synovial bursa sac injury. Also selected the league’s Defensive Player of the Year, what made his performance even more impressive was the fact that Simon battled the 2012 season through nagging rib, groin, ankle, and recurring shoulder injuries.
Simon appeared in 50 games at Ohio State, starting each of his final 37 contests – 26 at left defensive tackle and eleven at the “Leo” (left-side rush end) position…Recorded 155 tackles (82 solos) with 20.5 sacks for minus 144 yards and 43.0 stops for losses totaling 195 yards…Caused two fumbles and recovered three others, returning one 30 yards for a touchdown vs. Minnesota in 2010…Also deflected ten passes…Became only the seventh player in school history to record twenty sacks, joining Mike Vrabel (36.0; 1993-96), Jason Simmons (27.5; 1990-93), Matt Finkes (25.0; 1993-96), Eric Kumerow (23.0; 1984-87), Vernon Gholston (22.5; 2004, 06-07) and Will Smith (22.0; 2000-03)…His 43.0 tackles behind the line of scrimmage tied Jerome Foster (1979-82) for seventh on the school all-time record list.
Simon earned second-team All-American honors from the Walter Camp Football Foundation and was a third-team selection by The NFL Draft Report and the Associated Press…Just the eighth player in school history to become a two-time team captain, he added All-Big Ten Conference first-team accolades and was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year, receiving the Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year Award…The 2012 season marked the second time he was a semifinalist for the prestigious Lott IMPACT Award…Finalist for the Fellowship of Christian Athlete\’s Bobby Bowden Award … The team Most Valuable Player shifted outside to defensive end, playing the newly installed “Leo” position, as he went on to lead the conference with nine sacks for minus 73 yards, as his nine sacks tied his position coach, Mike Vrabel (1996), John Kacherski (1988) and Brent Johnson (2000) for tenth on the school season-record list…Led the team and finished second in the conference (22nd nationally) with 14.5 stops for losses totaling 87 yards…His stops-for-loss tied Greg Smith (1990) for 19th on the school annual record chart, while his lost yardage figure matched Aaron Brown for ninth on the OSU season-record list…Recorded 45 tackles (22 solos) with a forced fumble, two pressures and four pass deflections to help the Buckeyes place second in the league and 14th in the nation in rush defense (116.08 ypg)…Was bothered by an assortment of injuries before finally missing the season finale vs. Michigan with a synovial bursa sac (knee) injury…Simon tied the school record with five tackles-for-loss (for minus-24 yards, with two sacks and a forced fumble) vs. Nebraska and was named Big Ten Player of the Week and National Defensive Player of the Week by the Bednarik, Lott IMPACT and National Performance organizations. The other Buckeyes to record five stops behind the line of scrimmage in a game were Andy Katzenmoyer (vs. Arizona State in 1996), Jayson Gwinn (vs. Indiana in 1993) and Judah Herman (vs. Iowa in 1991). Head coach Urban Meyer called Simon, one of the team\’s captains, “the soul” of the Buckeyes\’ defense at his press conference after the clash vs. the Huskers…The senior registered four quarterback sacks (for minus-36 yards; fourth-most yards lost for a game at Ohio State) vs. Wisconsin, making him the first Buck-eye to record a five-TFL game and a four-TFL game in the same season. His four sacks tied the school game-record that was first established by Jason Simmons (vs. Washington State in 1991) and matched by Bobby Carpenter (vs. Michigan State in 2005) and Vernon Gholston (vs. Wisconsin in 2007)…Added a 7-yard sack in each of the California and Penn State games…Registered a season-high nine tackles in the Purdue clash…Recorded a pair of pressures that caused interceptions and posted a 10-yard sack vs. Illinois.
Simon was selected a third-team All-American by The NFL Draft Report and Associated Press, as he also received first-team All-Big Ten Conference honors from the league\’s coaches…Semi-finalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy and also was honored with Ohio State’s Bill Willis Award, given to the team\’s outstanding defensive player after leading the Buckeyes with seven quarterback sacks for minus 47 yards and sixteen stops for losses totaling 59 yards…Those figures ranked fifth and seventh, respectively, in the Big Ten…
His tackle-for-loss total tied Na’il Diggs (1998) and Matt Finkes (1996) for 11th on the school season-record chart…Also recorded a career-high 53 tackles (31 solos), as he broke up three passes and recovered a fumble…Named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after a nine-tackle performance vs. Illinois that included four stops behind the line of scrimmage (second-highest total in school history) and two sacks…Registered a career-best ten tackles vs. Indiana….Added two stops-for-loss, including a sack among his six tackles vs. Toledo…sacked QB Russell Wilson twice for minus 21 yards vs. Wisconsin and delivered a 3-yard sack to go with seven stops vs. Michigan.
Simon was named All-Big Ten Conference honorable mention after starting all thirteen games at left defensive tackle…Recorded 41 tackles (22 solos), three sacks for minus 20 yards and 8.5 stops for losses of 37 yards…Deflected two passes and recovered a pair of fumbles, as he advanced one fumble 30 yards for a touchdown vs. Minnesota…His other fumble recovery came vs. Eastern Michigan…Added a 10-yard sack of Miami\’s Jacory Harris and posted six stops vs. Wisconsin…Credited with a 6-yard sack and four tackles at Iowa, as he also delivered five tackles and a stop-for-loss in the Michigan win…Closed out the year with a 4-yard sack and three tackles vs. Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl.
Simon was honored by the coaching staff with the “First Year” Defensive Player Award…
Played in all thirteen games as a reserve left defensive tackle, finishing with sixteen tackles (7 solos), 1.5 sacks and four stops for losses totaling 12 yards…Also caused a fumble and deflected a pass.
2012 Season…Missed the final game of the season vs. Michigan with a synovial bursa sac injury, which he hurt in the Wisconsin clash…Also battled with nagging rib, groin, ankle, and recurring shoulder injuries.
4.76 in the 40-yard dash…1.70 10-yard dash…2.79 20-yard dash…4.56 20-yard shuttle…
7.43 three-cone drill…32-inch vertical jump…9’3” broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 34 times…32 ¾-inch arm length…9 3/8-inch hands…78 ¾-inch wingspan.
Simon attended Cardinal Mooney (Youngstown, Oh.) High School, playing football for head coach P.J. Flecko…The two-time All-State selection was named the state’s Division IV and Northeast Ohio\’s Defensive Player of the Year as a senior…That season, he made 148 tackles, eleven sacks and had thirteen more stops behind the line of scrimmage to go with three forced fumbles…Helped Cardinal Mooney to three state title games and a regional semifinals appearance during his career before he played in the U.S. Army All-American game…Rated the fourth-strongest high school player in the nation, the 36th-best defensive tackle in the country and the 17th-best player in the state by Rivals.com…Was ranked fifth among the nation’s defensive tackles, according to Scout.com…A member of the National Honor Society and a Cardinal Mooney Ambassador, he went on to establish a slew of school weight-lifting records…Graduated with a 3.7 grade point average.
Sports and Leisure Studies, with an emphasis in Exercise Science…Son of Renee and John Simon…Resides in Youngstown, Ohio.