2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Trenton Simpson

  • Trenton Simpson, 6-2/235

  • Linebacker

  • Clemson

  • Trenton Simpson Scouting Report
    By Charlie Campbell

  • Sub-package linebacker
  • Extremely fast
  • Sideline-to-sideline speed
  • Pursuit run defender
  • Pass-coverage athleticism
  • Can help cover running backs, tight ends, receivers
  • Can run down the middle seam
  • Good pursuit defender
  • Closing quickness
  • Athletic
  • Open-field tackler
  • Natural build
  • Covers a lot of ground in zone coverage
  • Can break down in space
  • Ability to redirect
  • Dangerous blitzer
  • Could also contribute on special teams

  • Weaknesses:
  • Lacks instincts
  • Slow to read and react
  • Needs to get faster at reading his keys
  • Tweener linebacker/safety
  • Could stand to get better at taking on and shedding blocks
  • Not a fit to be a Mike – middle – linebacker

  • Summary: Clemson has had a lot of freak athletes come through the program in recent years, and Simpson will keep that trend going. He saw his first action in 2020, recording 28 tackles, four sacks and one forced fumble. In 2021, Simpson recorded 65 tackles, six sacks and two passes broken up. He then totaled 73 tackles, two forced fumbles, 2.5 sacks and three passes batted during 2022.

    While some in the media have projected Simpson to the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, team sources had him graded lower. The issue that stands out as the fundamental problem for Simpson is a lack of instinctveness. Simpson struggles to anticipate what an offense is trying to do and can be slow to react to get in position to contribute to stopping the play. Defensive coaches in the NFL have a term, “fire your gun,” which is when a player makes a decision to come downhill or chase down a ball-carrier. Simmons needs to do a better job of making the quick decision over when to fire his gun because he can bite on misdirection. Simpson has a great skill set, but his lack of instincts could limit how much he actually plays in the NFL.

    In the modern NFL, defenses need linebackers who are capable of contributing to pass coverage. Simpson is that kind of linebacker, as he can defend against passing attacks because he covers a lot of ground in the middle of the field in zone coverage. With rare speed, athleticism and agility, Simpson has the potential to contribute in man coverage on tight ends and running backs. Simpson also showed some ability as a blitzer thanks to possessing explosive speed to hunt down the quarterback.

    Simpson is a very fast as a run defender, going sideline-to-sideline, and is built well-enough to tackle. He chases down ball-carriers while having the size and strength to handle big backs. In the ground game, Simpson has excellent speed to close, is able to change tack to redirect, and is bolt of lightning to the flat on perimeter runs. However, Simpson needs to get better at taking on and shedding blocks at the point of attack.

    For the 2023 NFL Draft, some team sources said they graded Simpson on Day 2 based on his skill set, because his lack of instincts has them skeptical about his ability to translate to the next level. With his lack of instincts, Simpson’s best role might be to add some weight and turn into a sub-package edge rusher like Haason Reddick.

    Player Comparison: Jeremy Chinn. Team sources have compared Simpson to Chinn. Chinn is a linebacker/safety tweener who flashes some big plays but also is good athlete without a natural position. Chinn was a second-day pick in 2020, and Simpson could go on Day 2 this year during the 2023 NFL Draft.


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