NFL, Read

NFL Draft Profile: Trenton Simpson

School: Clemson

Position: LB

Year: Junior

The Good: Trenton Simpson is a former five-star recruit and it’s easy to see why. His body looks like it was chiseled from stone, and then he went out and ran a 4.43 40 at the Combine (97th percentile for linebackers) and put up 25 reps on the bench press. When linebackers with Simpson’s size/speed combo connect when blitzing or crashing down on a screen, it looks really good.

The Bad: Simpson is a tweener between linebacker and safety, and I highly doubt it’s physically possible for him to add any more muscle to his 235lbs frame. He does not look the part of a linebacker against the run. His contact balance is lacking, he doesn’t set the edge well, and he’s not a sure tackler. Simpson struggles to force WRs and TEs off their routes in man coverage, and he’s not very instinctual in zone coverage either. He’s somehow too aggressive in coverage yet too apprehensive as a pass rusher.

The Bottom Line: This profile of off-ball linebacker just never works out with high picks in the NFL Draft. Seriously, this isn’t personal about Trenton Simpson; go back and look at my write-ups on Jamin Davis, Patrick Queen, etc. Well, this next part is personal, but I have a lower grade on Simpson than those guys anyway. There are just very few high-level plays on his tape to offset the myriad of concerning plays. Granted, this game was played 1.5 years ago, but Simpson’s tape against Georgia is as rough as I’ve seen from a rumored Day 1 prospect. There is a burgeoning case that heavy NFL Draft investment into off-ball linebackers is more wasteful than into running backs, due to the unpredictable nature and almost impossible outcome for an immediately seamless college-to-NFL transition at the position. I’ll vouch for the general positional value of off-ball linebackers in the NFL, but becoming a good player there takes time and players like Simpson with plenty of natural talent but without demonstrable abilities to cover and stop the run should go in the back half of the Draft.

Grade: Day 3

Pro Comp: Jarrad Davis

Games Watched:

  • Georgia 2021
  • South Carolina 2021
  • Wake Forest 2022
  • NC State 2022
  • Florida State 2022

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