John Simon played in 50 career games, made 37 starts, registered 154 total tackles, and collected 20.5 quarterback sacks during his four-year career at Ohio State.
However, he has spent the last four months answering questions about his speed, his ailing shoulder, and the ability to play in multiple defensive fronts.
Simon’s hope is that his versatility will help him answer any doubts that NFL talent evaluators might have about his ability to successfully make the jump to the game’s highest level.
“I think being a very versatile athlete helps me in this draft, and helps me be able to benefit teams more often, so hopefully, that will help teams like me more on draft day,” Simon said at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine. “(Whoever drafts me will) get the hardest worker on their team, and a guy that’s going to be loyal to the organization. I’m a true teammate that’s going to help the team no matter what it takes. I’m a guy who’s going to go non-stop, to-the-whistle all four quarters.”
Simon was unable to work out for scouts and coaches at the Combine while recovering from surgery to repair a shoulder injury. He attempted to play through the pain and participate in the 2013 Senior Bowl, but went home two days into the week of practices.
“It’s one that I had from week two of the season and just had to get it fixed,” Simon said. “I never got it fixed, thought I could go one more game with it, and that wasn’t the case. I had to go and get it fixed and I’m dealing with that. Fortunately, it was just a cleanout.
“It’s tough, but I had to get it fixed. Fortunately, we got great news that it was only a couple weeks worth of recovery and I’ll be back in action.”
During his lead-up to the Senior Bowl, Simon focused on displaying his versatility by switching from defensive end to outside linebacker. At 6-foot-2 and 263 pounds, Simon said he will play “wherever a team wants me.”
“I feel like I’m very versatile, and I feel that can help me at the next level, help a team in any way I can,” Simon said. “I feel like I can play multiple positions, and that’s something that will work to my advantage in the draft.
“I’m projected by some teams as an outside linebacker in a 3-4, so that’s just a standup defensive end, which I played a lot of at Ohio State, so I do have experience in that position. I’d definitely feel comfortable if a team wanted to put me in that position.
“I’ll do whatever they want me to do. I’m not going to tell a coach, ‘No.’ (Inside linebacker is) a position I have less experience in, but I totally feel that I have the potential to be a great player in that position. That’s just something that I have to work on.”
Part of the reason Simon feels comfortable standing up as an outside linebacker or playing with his hand in the dirt as a defensive end is because of his position coach at Ohio State, former NFL linebacker Mike Vrabel.
After a slow start to his NFL career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Vrabel went to the New England Patriots, where he played at linebacker, as well as tight end in goal-line situations.
“I definitely know that I’m going to have to be adaptable and do whatever it takes to help the team, but talking about Coach Vrabel, he taught us so much on the defensive line that we were lucky to have him,” Simon said. “I felt like we’re similar players. I’ve watched a lot of film on Coach Vrabel, and seeing how he handled different positions, he played with his hand down, standing up, and then, he played a couple yards off the ball at linebacker. He was a very versatile player, and having him as a coach and learning from him and what worked for him usually works for me as well.”