NASHVILLE – The Titans picked a mammoth defensive tackle in the first round of the NFL Draft, and it made another big guy smile.
Jeffery Simmons, a 6-4, 300-pounder, was picked 19th overall, and the Titans expect him to be a disruptive force for years to come. Titans fans have to go all the way back to 2002 to find the last time the Titans took a defensive tackle in the first round, and that player – Albert Haynesworth – turned out pretty well.
Haynesworth has high hopes for Simmons.
“I would love to see him go in there and disrupt things – that’s what I love to see, great defensive line play,” Haynesworth said of Simmons. “I hope he goes in there and balls out, and be like me, I guess. I want him to be that guy where no matter what another team does, they can’t stop him.
“I want the other teams to have to gameplan around him where they have to get away from him. I want him to control the line of scrimmage. I just want to see dominant defensive line play, because I’d be stoked. I want him to go out there and be extremely disruptive, and bring back the Tyrants.”
A 6-foot-6, 330-pounder, Haynesworth was a monster inside for the Titans from 2002-2008, twice earning All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors while racking up 24 sacks. Haynesworth left the Titans in 2009 to join the Redskins.
The 6-4, 301-pound Simmons racked up 163 tackles, seven sacks, four forced fumbles and six passes defensed in three seasons at Mississippi State, where he began the offseason as a potential top-10 pick before suffering a torn ACL doing a routine drill during a workout in February.
Haynesworth, who played at the University of Tennessee, said he was familiar with Simmons before the Titans picked him. After the Titans made the pick, he looked up his highlight reel and explored his game further.
“He is so explosive, and I really think that’s what the Titans have been missing – real explosive interior guys who are really disruptive,” Haynesworth said. “You need guy who can get in there and really overpower the man in front of you. To get pressure, a lot of times now the Titans have to blitz, and you are not going to go that far in the playoffs and things like that if you constantly have to do that – you have to be able to win up front.
“I think (Simmons) is definitely the piece that can help do that, if he goes in there and plays like he is supposed to, where he’s attacking and going straight ahead. If he does that, I think it could be amazing.”
Haynesworth said the presence of Simmons should allow four-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman Jurrell Casey, a third-round pick in 2011, and those around him to be even better, which was the case when he played alongside Robaire Smith and Tony Brown, and defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch.
“I think he’s a great athlete, and he was a steal at 19,” Haynesworth said of Simmons. “He played in the SEC, which is a dominant conference. So while going from the SEC to the NFL is a step up, of course, it’s not going to be a crazy jump.
“He’s definitely the type of guy who can adjust because he’s that type of player.”
Haynesworth said he’d like to come to training camp to meet Simmons, and help him any way he can.
Haynesworth’s advice to Simmons for now: Get healthy, and when you’re ready to take the field, know what you’re doing.
It could lead to dominance.
“He just needs to get in there and work extremely hard, get that knee right, and put the past in the past and move forward,” Haynesworth said. “While he’s recovering from his injury, he needs to really learn the defense where he can just play without having to think about things and be able to pin his ears back and go.
“As long as he gets into the playbook and can just play and not worry about thinking, I think it could be something great. I think he has the potential to be a great defensive tackle for the Titans.”
The Tennessee Titans select Mississippi State defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons in the first round (19th overall) of the 2019 NFL Draft. (Photos: AP, Mississippi State)
Titans top draft pick Jeffery Simmons joined former Titans at a season ticket member luncheon at the Country Music Hall of Fame. (Photos: Donn Jones)
New Titans defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons is introduced to reporters in Nashville. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)