Slowly but surely is Tennessee Titans DL Jeffery Simmons gaining much-deserved notoriety across NFL circles. Simmons’ third season with the Titans was his best yet, recording 8.5 sacks and 12 TFLs in 2021. While this point in the offseason has been infamously coined as List Season, Simmons finds himself amongst some of the game’s most talented players under the age of 25 years old.
CBS Sports ranked Simmons at No. 22 on its ‘Top 25 NFL players 25 years old and under.’ Titans fans might even believe Simmons deserves to be higher on the list, and they certainly have a strong case.
“If you’re looking for the next Aaron Donald or Fletcher Cox, this is probably your guy,” Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports writes. “Since a quiet rookie year, Simmons has emerged as the superpowered anchor of Tennessee’s feisty front, never more clearly than during the Titans’ mauling of Joe Burrow in the 2021 playoffs. He plays even bigger than he is, and after an 8.5-sack breakout, he’s still got room to grow.”
Just three defensive linemen cracked this particular list. Carolina Panthers DE Brian Burns checks in at No. 21, Washington Commanders DE Chase Young ranks No. 14, and the San Francisco 49ers’ DE Nick Bosa makes an appearance at No. 4.
Bosa is clearly the leader of the pack, but the other two are close calls. Burns has 25.5 sacks in three years with Carolina. His primary responsibility is to rush the quarterback while Simmons leads the Titans’ run defense AND is a valuable piece to the team’s pass rush.
Not that he needs any excuse, but Simmons’ low sack totals in his first two years (5) could be attributed to a condensed rookie season as he was coming off an ACL injury at Mississippi State.
On the other hand, Young is quite the head scratcher. The potential is obvious with the second overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. However, Young has just nine sacks combined through his first two years in the league. To be fair, Young is dealing with an injury of his own after tearing his ACL just nine games into the 2021 season.
Simmons earned Pro Bowl honors in just his third year in the NFL. His growth has been evident, though he is not nearly a finished product at just 24 years old. I anticipate Simmons will climb even higher on this list after another dominant season in 2022.
Featured image via Steve Roberts – USA TODAY Sports