STRENGTHS - Unlike many more gifted defensive ends, Simon's ability to play with great effort, intensity and aggressiveness on every snap helps him to out-produce them. Combining a great motor with a consistently ability to play with good base and excellent hand use helps Simon to easily keep blockers from getting ahold of him. Despite lacking elite natural first step explosiveness, his average foot quickness combine with his instincts and snap awareness so that he is able to get off the ball with better than expected quickness as a pass rusher. Simon has a variety of pass rush moves to defeat the offensive tackle - A good "slap, dip & rip" move to get and turn corner well, a strong bull rush and an excellent spin move to beat man back inside. In addition, Simon's ability to use his hands to keep blocker from getting ahold of him combines with his rare effort to let him pressure the passer even when his pass rush moves are not affective. Even with good production Simon has rushing the passer, the strength of his game is playing the run. He does an excellent job of getting off the ball and into proper position (Based of course on his responsibility) quickly, maintains good knee bend/base and uses hands to take on run blocker strong at the point of attack. He has consistently shown the ability to defeat run blocks to make tackles on runs at him. Even though he likely would love to make every tackle, he shows good discipline maintaining backside contain responsibility when play initially starts out away from him. Because of this he is always in position to make the tackle if the ball carrier cuts back to the backside of the play or if the play is a "naked roll-back pass" he is in position to disrupt the play. On running plays away offenses often try to run block the backside defensive end with a tight end or leave him unblocked and when teams do this against Simon he consistently shows the speed to come down the line to make the tackle once he has determined that the play is not coming back to him. While he has not done it often, he does have experience lining up in a 2-Point outside linebacker alignment and looks comfortable doing it, so I believe he could handle being switched to that position by a team that plays a 34 defense.
WEAKNESSES - Simon is the classic "over-achiever" who lacks the elite physical talent that NFL teams prefer in a defensive end. Lacking elite first step explosiveness will likely keep him from being able to get the corner vs NFL offensive tackles. Additionally, at just 6-1 1/2 he lacks the length NFL teams look for as defensive ends of that height usually have trouble keeping blockers from getting ahold of them due to lack of arm length. When Simon is unable to get his hands on blocker first, his lack of bulk/size often allows blocker to tie him up and eliminate him from the play. Despite my belief that he can handle the switch to 34 outside linebacker, it is not going to be a smooth adjustment as he lacks the natural smooth athleticism to be more than average playing off the ball in coverage.
SUMMARY - Simon is the type of defensive end that you want to write-off because he lacks the special physical talent to overcome his height, but the more I evaluated him I became convinced that he will make it in the NFL. While he lacks the same height, watching Simon on film reminds me a lot of longtime NFL defensive end Aaron Kampmann when he played at Iowa as neither is a top level athlete, but were highly productive college defensive ends because of their technique, competitiveness, smarts and instincts. In addition, I believe that Simon will beat out other players to be a backup defensive end because his playing mentality will lead to him being an effective four squad special teams player. Overall, Simon is not a player that will be drafted high and will likely not start early in his career. However, I think he will be a contributing player as a backup defensive end (Or outside linebacker if the team that chooses him plays a 34 scheme) and special teams player as a rookie. Often players like Simon are good backups until injuries force them into the lineup and then they become starters long term because they just keep producing when they get the opportunity and I think that is what will happen with Simon. Simon reminds me a lot of current Patriots DE/OLB Rob Nickovich.