As many NFL fans do on Sunday morning about an hour or so before kickoff, I check the inactives list, as it is firmly entrenched into my football Sunday routine right before I complete my picks for the week and submit my fantasy football roster.
But then you get to the Ravens inactives list.
Every week, you know who’s likely to miss the game and who are the usual suspects on the inactives, but there always seems to be a name or two in which you are surprised or even shocked when you come across it.
Last year, it was John Simon, the talented and promising 23-year-old Outside Linebacker out of Ohio State that usually left me surprised when I’d see his name listed, especially as the Ravens frustrating 2013 season progressed.
After the Ravens drafted the 2012 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Defensive Lineman of the Year and 1st-Team All-Big Ten selection in the 4th round of the 2013 NFL draft out of THE Ohio State University, Simon only appeared in seven games as a rookie and recorded 4 tackles on Special Teams.
It’s easy to see why Urban Meyer loved John Simon so much even though he only coached him for one season. Simon had a superb senior year in 2012, in which he recorded 44 tackles, 14.5 TFL (2nd in the Big Ten) and a Big-Ten leading 9 sacks.
Simon, an Ohio native, left the Buckeyes with his name inscribed in the school’s record books by finishing with 43 TFL (7th in OSU history) and 20.5 Sacks (7th in OSU history), along with 154 total tackles. The fearless leader of the Buckeyes D was also a two-year captain, just the 8th time a player has been able to claim that title in school history.
Obviously, the first thing that stands out about John Simon is his leadership qualities, but he is also a skilled pass rusher and natural playmaker, as noted by the Buckeyes 63-38 Win over Nebraska in 2012, in which Simon set a school record with five TFL to go along with two sacks.
The bottom line is that Simon has tremendous upside, but is still a raw talent that needs to refine his technique and improve in pass coverage.
Looking at 2014, he is an obvious lock on the final 53 due to his ability to play ST and his role as the backup to Elvis Dumervil and Courtney Upshaw at Sam LB. But a stellar preseason could earn him more regular season snaps and be utilized as a DE/OLB in certain packages. In the event of injury you could even see the former Buckeye take reps in the middle at Mike and Will LB.
When you mix outstanding potential with an amazing character and work ethic, the end result could be a breakout season for Simon if the opportunity presents itself.
The 2nd year OLB is definitely a player to keep an eye on this summer and if he continues to improve, he could be in contention for a starting spot in 2015.