Head Coach John Harbaugh generally doesn’t buy into comparisons.
But even he conceded that fourth-round draft pick
“Yes, toughness and style,” Harbaugh said. “I think work ethic, attention to detail, guys that love ball. … Jarret Johnson was a Raven, and he always will be. So, it’s probably a good comparison.”
The similarities are uncanny.
Johnson was a fourth-round pick of the Ravens back in 2003, and came from a powerhouse program (Alabama). He came to the NFL without a defined position, started playing defensive tackle, and eventually landed at outside linebacker.
Simon, a fourth-round pick, played at undefeated Ohio State and originally played defensive tackle for the Buckeyes. He ended up as a defensive end, but projects more to a linebacker in Baltimore’s scheme.
Johnson was perennially considered one of the Ravens’ unsung heroes during his nine seasons in Baltimore. Simon was the Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year, yet lasted until the fourth round.
Johnson became a leader in the Ravens’ locker room. Simon was a two-year captain at Ohio State.
Johnson played through pain with regularity, starting a franchise-record 129 games in Baltimore. Buckeyes Head Coach Urban Meyer said he wanted to name his next child after Simon after the senior played through a shoulder injury.
Then there’s the style of play.
Ravens fans know Johnson’s style well. He wasn’t afraid to stick his nose into a pile, or take on a blocker that far out-sized him. Johnson developed into one of the league’s top edge-setters, an inglorious job that he embraced.
On tape, Simon looks primed for the same. He was used in more of a pass-rushing role as a senior, when he notched nine sacks. But he’s just as willing to take on, and rough up, blockers.
Due to his athleticism, grittiness and physical demeanor, Simon should quickly turn into a solid rotational linebacker and strong special teams player with the ability to develop into more.
If there’s any indicator, Johnson didn’t become a full-time starter until his fifth year. He didn't miss a game for the next five seasons before departing for San Diego via free agency last year.
Simon is amped just to get started with practice.
“They’re just a tough, hard-nosed team and I feel that’s how I play the game,” Simon said of the Ravens. “I’m just excited to be part of the organization and look forward to getting to practice.”