Trenton Simpson Scouting Report
Written by Leo Sells
Linebackers have been the heart of NFL defenses for decades now, and that remains true in the modern NFL. This draft class of linebackers is widely regarded as lacking top-tier talent, but is that really true? Today, I’m going to be taking a look at Trenton Simpson out of Clemson and analyzing what kind of a player he could really be in the NFL:
Trenton Simpson Draft Profile
Height/Weight: 6’3″/240 lbs
Draft Projection: Late First Round
Simpson, from an athletic profile, is one of the most interesting players in this year’s class. His 6’3″/240 lbs frame is very solid for a young backer, but his speed is where he really impresses. Despite his size, he projects to run around a 4.39 40-yard dash time, and that would be among the best at his position in the NFL. He also has a 35-inch vertical jump, a 10-2 broad jump, and benches over 375 pounds.
At Clemson, Simpson had an interesting mix of roles. He got extended work as a middle linebacker, an off-ball linebacker, a pass rusher, and a coverage guy in his three-year college career. He showed flashes of potential in all those areas, but there’s concerns that he’s a “jack of all trades, master of none” type player. Some scouts view him as a ‘tweener’, which means he doesn’t have a defined role or position, for better or worse. Are these concerns real? Or is he the next elite swiss-army knife defender at the NFL level?
- Uses his elite speed on the field – can truly cover sideline-to-sideline
- Has good size for the position and uses it when making tackles
- Has shown real potential as a speed rusher
- Hits gaps hard when blitzing
- Plays with a high motor and a desirable amount of intensity
- Has displayed above-average coverage abilities for a player of his size
- Extremely versatile; can serve almost any role on defense
- Has fluid movement and does well breaking down for tackles
- Needs to develop into a more consistent tackler; shoulder tackles were an issue for him at points
- May not have a defined position at the NFL level
- Has had trouble consistently shedding or fighting through blocks in college
- Will have trouble fitting in to some different defensive schemes in the NFL
- Could stand to put on a couple of pounds if playing middle LB
- Production regressed in 2022 – talent issue or usage issue?
Simpson is a tough player to scout. He has played multiple different positions and does a little bit of everything on defense, so it’s hard to tell if he’s actually elite at anything. After considering everything, I’m buying in on his athletic profile. I agree that he needs some work in some key aspects of his game, but his athleticism and instincts are elite, and you can’t teach that. I’m not saying he’s going to be this good, but he does remind me a bit of Micah Parsons (especially his 2021 tape). It’s just crazy how he can go from winning a pass-rushing rep to locking down an opposing team’s slot wide receiver, and that type of versatility can make for a very dangerous player in the NFL.
A lot of what he turns out to be will depend on where he lands on draft night. Obviously this is true with every prospect, but I think it’s especially true for Simpson. Take Isaiah Simmons for example. He was also a ‘tweener’ without a clear position coming out of college, and the Cardinals didn’t know how to use or develop him correctly. He hasn’t had a great start to his career, but he became an actual effective contributor when utilized properly in 2022. If a team with a good coaching staff and a fitting defensive scheme takes Trenton Simpson, I’m very confident that he will become an elite player at the NFL level with his elite athleticism and rare versatility.
Grade: Early First Round
Pro Comparison: A mix of Micah Parsons and Isaiah Simmons
Team Fits: Detroit Lions, Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Chargers