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A three-year starter at Boston College, Justin Simmons has bounced between free safety and cornerback but has the size and ball skills to make a long, lasting impression on the NFL from the middle of the field.
An active tackler when coming down into the box or chasing receivers to the edge of the field, Simmons uses his height and length to create a big tackle radius. He’s an aggressive player in pursuit and has a great motor. He’s smart and aware on the field, and teams will value his existing football IQ as well as his aptitude to transition quickly into a scheme.
Simmons has the athletic ability to match up in man coverage from the slot against receivers or tight ends. That skill set led to five interceptions in 2015, showing his ability to track and attack the ball. He uses his hands well at the line and will roll back players when he gets his hands on them in a jam situation. His quickness in his feet is impressive, and he’s a much better short-area mover than expected for his long frame.
A tight mover through transitions and in space, Simmons’ switch to safety was the best thing for his NFL draft stock. That’s where he’ll have to play in the NFL, and until he can beef up a lanky frame, it’s likely he’ll be used as a third safety in nickel and dime packages.
Simmons’ lack of quick feet in coverage get him in trouble on double moves. He can overcommit to the first break in a route and will get flying downhill without the agility or flexibility to recover. With questionable long speed, Simmons can be erased once he makes a false step.
You’d like to see more activity across the board from Simmons, as he too often lets the play unfold in front of him. Linebacker Steven Daniels cleaned up many plays before Simmons got into the frame. With a lean build and average burst to close on the ball, he’s not an intense locator, which could be a concern.
Height: 6'2 ⅜"
Weight: 202 lbs.
40 Time: 4.53s
Short Shuttle: 3.85s
PRO COMPARISON: Tony Lippett, Miami Dolphins
FINAL GRADE: 5.70/9.00 (Round 4—Backup Caliber)