NASHVILLE – The Titans selected Mississippi State defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons with the 19th overall pick of the NFL Draft.
While the team may have to wait a little bit to see his full impact, in the long run the Titans think he'll be a big difference-maker for years to come.
"He's a guy we did extensive research on, and he is going to come in here and get to work and help this football team," Titans General Manager Jon Robinson said of Simmons. "I'm just really excited about the ability that he has. He has really good quickness, can really run for a big man. He is explosive, changes direction well. He finishes plays, and he is an aggressive player.
"We're super-stoked to have him on the football team."
Simmons said he's excited about being a Titan.
"I have so much passion," Simmons said on a conference call. "When I step on the field, it's going to show. When you have that energy, everyone's going to come up with you. ... They can trust me. They can depend on me. I won't let them down."
Simmons, who racked up 157 tackles, seven sacks, four forced fumbles and six passes defensed in three seasons at Mississippi State, began the offseason as a potential top-10 pick.
But Simmons (6-3, 301) suffered a torn ACL doing a routine drill during a workout in February and had surgery. The injury, paired with an off-field incident Simmons was involved in back in high school, led the Titans and other NFL teams to do extra homework on the big defensive lineman.
The Titans said they did extensive research on Simmons, and after spending time with him, they felt confident in picking him. Simmons told Robinson after being informed he'd be the pick, "I will not let you down."
"I am extremely confident in Jeffery Simmons as a man," Robinson said. "I know that he is going to be productive in the community, and he is going to be productive on this football team. … We felt like whenever he's able to get back out there, he'll be a really impactful player for our defense."
Titans coach Mike Vrabel said he's looking forward to having a player the caliber of Simmons on the team.
"To get these types of players that can make an impact along the defensive front, they're disruptive," Vrabel said. "And I think when you try and draw up blocking schemes and figure out, 'How am I going to block this guy each and every week?' We feel like we have that in Jurrell (Casey), and we feel like when Jeffery is ready, he'll be another one of those players that can help us.
"I am very confident, as is Jon, that he will make everyone here proud. To get this type of player, this type of person, when we got him, we are excited."
Leading up to the draft, a pair of draft analysts thought the Titans would have to consider picking Simmons in the first round of the NFL Draft. When he was available, the Titans jumped to get him.
"I think there's a good chance he's there at 19," NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said of Simmons leading up to the draft. "And I think if you can be patient, history would look pretty kindly upon that pick because he is a top five talent."
In his last mock draft, which was posted Thursday morning, NFL Network draft analyst Charles Davis had the Titans taking Simmons.
"Simmons makes sense to me for just about anyone, because I think he is that good," Davis said. "But the questions: How long will you have to wait? When will he be ready? Can you afford to do so? Each team will have to decide."
NFL Network's Bucky Brooks had Simmons listed at No.5 on his list of top defensive tackles in the draft.
"The ACL tear Simmons suffered in February clearly diminishes his draft stock," Brooks wrote. "But astute coaches will keep his disruptive game in mind and focus on how he could impact a unit when he returns from his injury."
Jeremiah said he's heard some relatively positive injury news about Simmons, and his future.
Simmons said on a conference call Thursday night his ACL rehab is going "great." He said in 2 or 3 weeks, he'll be able to run again. He expects to be able to play in 2019.
"From everything I've been told on the medical stuff, it sounds like if you pick him, you might be able to get him for six or seven games (in 2019)," Jeremiah said. "So it might not be a total wash. If your doctors are comfortable with it, and you thought you were going to get six, seven games with him in 2019 and have him rocking and rolling in the future, again, I think history would look pretty kindly upon that pick because he's that talented."
The Titans are scheduled to make five more picks in rounds 2-7 over the next two days, including picks in the second (51) and third round (82) on Friday night.
The Tennessee Titans select Mississippi State defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons in the first round (19th overall) of the 2019 NFL Draft. (Photos: AP, Mississippi State)