Trenton Simpson is considered one of the top two linebackers in this year’s NFL Draft. Depending on which analyst one might follow, the Clemson star is usually listed as the No. 1 or No. 2 linebacker on most draft boards.
The former Tiger was already considered, at worst, a Day 2 pick in next month’s draft. However, his performances at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine and Clemson’s Pro Day have shot Simpson up the draft boards.
NFL Network analyst, and co-host of Good Morning Football, Peter Schrager compared Simpson to Baltimore Ravens linebacker Roquan Smith, who signed a new five-year 100-million-dollar deal in January to stay in Baltimore. Smith was drafted No. 8 overall by the Chicago Bears in the 2018 NFL Draft out of Georgia.
“Trenton is looking to do the same thing Roquan did and become a top 10 pick,” Schrager said during the NFL Combine last month.
Simpson is also getting comparisons to Cleveland linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. CBS analyst, and former NFL quarterback, Danny Kanell says Simpson reminds him of Owusu-Koramoah because of his quick instincts, top end speed and his ability to suddenly change direction.
“Clemson has had a really nice run of defensive players and this is just the latest in linebacker Trenton Simpson, who lit up his Pro Day there at Clemson,” Kanell said. “He really wowed the scouts with his size and athleticism.”
Simpson checks into the draft at 6-foot-3, 235 pounds. He ran a 4.43 40-yard dash at the combine, while also posting a rep of 25 (225-pounds) on the bench press.
The All-ACC linebacker also impressed scouts during his workouts and continued to impress everyone at Clemson’s Pro Day when he recorded a 40.5-inch vertical jump.
“That is what we would all like to look like in underwear, wouldn’t we? Life goals right there, man,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney joked. “Geez, almighty. That dude is pretty special. He is special. I mean, he was not even going to jump and a scout talked him into jumping. I think he told him, ‘You’re welcome’ when it was over.
“I think he jumped forty and a half. He is just fast, strong and a great human being. He is just an awesome kid. He just makes your heart smile anytime you are around him. He is just a great kid.”
At Clemson, Simpson was one of the top linebackers in the ACC. He finished the 2022 season with a career-high 72 tackles.
In his three years at Clemson, Simpson started 27 games, while racking up 187 tackles. He recorded 22.5 tackles for loss, 12.5 were sacks and forced three fumbles.
In all, Simpson played in 37 games in his college career.
There are some weaknesses Simpson will need to work on once he lands on an NFL roster. Kanell pointed out Simpson had too many missed tackles while at Clemson. He needs to do a better job of breaking down his feet in space and despite his 10.5-inch hands, he has average grip strength.
Those are all areas Kanell said he can improve in and he expects Simpson, at worst, is a late first-round pick.
The 2023 NFL Draft will be held April 27-29 in Kansas City, Mo.
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