Browns general manager John Dorsey wasn’t kidding when he said last week he’d meet with Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons “one way or another” before the draft later this month.
Simmons revealed he visited Browns headquarters in an Instagram post Wednesday. The Browns are allowed 30 pre-draft visits in Berea with non-local prospects.
Simmons (6-foot-4, 305) posted video of the practice field, hours after a selfie of him in a suit with Cleveland as the location.
Simmons is a polarizing prospect.
As a senior in high school he was caught on video punching a woman several times as she lay on the ground. He later said he was defending a family member in an altercation but regretted his actions. He pleaded no contest to simple assault, was found guilty of malicious mischief and fined.
“Everybody’s seen the video, everybody knows what happened,” Simmons said at Mississippi State’s pro day March 27. “It’s pretty much the same thing I’ve been doing since it happened. I’ve been honest about the situation, just laid it on the line to teams, to anybody who asks me about the situation. There’s nothing to hide about the situation.
“It’s a mistake I made back in high school. I regret it.”
Dorsey is known for giving talented players second chances, including running back Kareem Hunt, who was suspended by the NFL for the first eight games of the 2019 season after a video showed him pushing and kicking a woman. Dorsey said at the scouting combine that signing Hunt wouldn’t preclude him from drafting Simmons.
Even if Dorsey is comfortable taking Simmons, he might not have the chance.
The altercation could hurt Simmons’ draft status, as well as a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered working out in February that will likely sideline him for his entire rookie season.
But Simmons is considered a top-five talent by some, including NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah, and the Browns don’t have a pick until No. 49 after sending No. 17 to the Giants as part of the deal to acquire receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
If Dorsey covets Simmons, he’ll likely have to trade back into the first round.
“I know on the film when you watch him play the game of football, he’s a really good football player — really good,” Dorsey told reporters at the league meetings.
In three years with the Bulldogs, Simmons totaled 163 tackles, 33 for loss, seven sacks, five forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a touchdown.
“He’s a great player,” Mississippi State defensive end Montez Sweat said at the combine. “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.”
Tulane cornerback Donnie Lewis Jr. (6-0, 190), a possible late-round pick, posted videos on Instagram of the Browns’ field house and locker room. He had seven interceptions and 34 passes defensed over the last three years.