NASHVILLE, Tenn. – At what point in the draft equation does a high-quality player destined to miss a big chunk of his rookie season, if not all of it, become worth selecting?

That’s a question facing the Titans at No. 19 where Mississippi State interior defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons may well be available, and would likely bring them a skill set of which they are in dire need. He’d also bring a repaired left ACL he tore in February.Simmons

That could see him return during the course of the 2019 NFL season, but he’s won’t be making an impact on opening day or anywhere close to it. And it’s possible his first year could be a wash.

A team has contractual control over a first-rounder for five years if it exercises a fifth-year option after three seasons. Picks after the first round can reach free agency after four seasons.

If the Titans drafted Simmons at No. 19 or after a trade to later in the first, it could be bringing in a player and giving up a fifth of his service time right from the start.

To some evaluators and analysts, Simmons would be a Top 10 pick if healthy.

Said Simmons college teammates, edge Montez Sweat: “He’s a great player. You have to bring two just to block him, you can’t get him one-on-one. He’s a great player. Great run-stopper. He’s probably the best defensive tackle in the draft, to me.”

Simmons was found guilty in 2016 of malicious mischief and pleaded no contest to a simple assault charge related to a March 24 fight, captured on video repeatedly punching a woman. Ultimately, he said he was defending his sister.Future

This story details what he did, what he said and what he’s done since.

Matt Miller of Bleacher report said but for the health and the incident, Simmons would have contended for the top grade of the entire class.

Wrote Dane Brugler of The Athletic: “Overall, Simmons is a power-packed player with natural ease of movement to stay balanced at contact, reset the line of scrimmage and hunt the ballcarrier, projecting as an immediate NFL starter with Pro Bowl upside for a team willing to accept his baggage. His recent ACL tear will likely sideline him for the 2019 NFL season and drop him 20-30 spots on draft weekend.”

So, is missing a dozen games, or even a season worth the trade-off for getting him at 19?

We saw two examples in 2016 of teams getting a value payoff for waiting.

Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith fell to pick 34 in the second round. He missed entire 2016 season for Dallas, but has played in every game since starting six in 2017 and all 16 in 2018. He’s made 202 tackles, nine for a loss, with eight quarterback hits and four forced fumbles.

UCLA linebacker Myles Jack was presumed to be a Top 5 pick, but fell to 36th overall because of concerns about a shaky knee that teams feared might require further, more serious surgery.

apple icon 144x144 precomposedIt has not yet, however. He ended up making debut in 2016 season opener with the Jaguars and has played 48 games with 42 starts including every game the last two seasons. He’s made 219 tackles, seven for a loss with, 11 QB hits, an interception, a forced fumble, and three fumble recoveries

In 2004, Miami running back Willis McGahee was probably on track to be a Top 5 pick. But he suffered a serious knee injury in the Fiesta Bowl and lasted until 24th for the Bills. He carried the ball only 19 times as he played in just three of the team’s first four games. But then he got to at least 100 yards in seven of the final 12 games while scoring 13 rushing touchdowns.

“You’re hoping and expecting he comes in and helps you right away, hopefully, Day 1 he’s starting, he’s going,” former San Francisco and Washington general manager Scot McCloughan said on The Midday 180. “Simmons is a really good player. If he wasn’t injured of course he’d be a top 10 pick. You’ve also got to get the ownership, whoever the powers that be are to (understand) that, ‘Listen, he’s going to be redshirted, he’s going to have a whole year off.’ Which is fine.

“From a GM’s standpoint that’s doing it right, you’re not building for the one season. But, also there will be players on the board at the time in the first round who can help you right away. Right away. It’s touch and go. I took Frank Gore when I was in San Fran, and the only reason he was around was because of two ACLs and two shoulders that he had repaired. That was the only reason he lasted. But that ended up being a good pick because he’s still playing. Medical is medical. The more surgeries you have, the lesser your career usually is.”

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