Pro Days: Steelers' GM might see Harrison clone in Buckeyes' Simon
By Rob Rang | The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.comMarch 25, 2013 6:54 pm ET While the Baltimore Ravens filled their need for another pass rusher by signing veteran Elvis Dumervil over the weekend, the Pittsburgh Steelers might be targeting a rookie to help take the place of five-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker James Harrison, who the team released two weeks ago in a cost-cutting move.
Reports have surfaced that the 2008 Defensive Player of the Year might be willing to return to Pittsburgh, but general manager Kevin Colbert has never been one to wait for replacement options and, judging by his appearance Monday at a private workout for Ohio State pass rusher John Simon, Harrison may have waited too long.
Colbert was the headliner among representatives from 12 teams at Simon's workout, according to a report from NFL.com's Gil Brandt.
The 6-1, 257-pound Simon starred as a defensive end for the Buckeyes but will likely have to make the transition to outside linebacker in the NFL at this size. He struggled when asked to do so in Mobile, Ala., during Senior Bowl practices before succumbing to a shoulder injury that kept him sidelined at the combine and during Ohio State's originally scheduled Pro Day, March 8.
Despite being hampered by a knee injury that limited him to just 11 games in 2012, Simon was named the Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Year with 44 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss and a career-high nine sacks. On more than one occasion, the high-effort Simon was characterized by Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer as the "heart and soul" of the team.
Simon demonstrated enough athleticism during his drills Monday to reassure scouts from 3-4 clubs of his ability to pressure the quarterback as a stand-up rusher. He was clocked between 4.62 and 4.70 in the 40-yard dash and posted times of 4.42 seconds in the short shuttle and 7.10 in the three-cone drill. These times are in line with some of the other intriguing "second-tier" hybrid edge rushers of the 2013 draft class, like Auburn's Corey Lemonier and Southern Mississippi's Jamie Collins, among others.
Sporting similarly compact builds, as well as burst and power, Simon and the 6-0, 242-pound Harrison have a lot of similarities in the way that they wreak havoc off the edge.
If healthy, Simon could prove to be an immediate impact defender likely to be available in the second to third round.