COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The "heart and soul" of the undefeated 2012 Ohio State football team has a new home.
John Simon -- who earned high praise from Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer since his arrival in Columbus in 2011 -- was selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the fourth round (129th overall) of Saturday's NFL Draft. The Big Ten's reigning defensive player of the year ended his career as one of Ohio State's all-time greats, but saw his draft stock slip due to questions pertaining to his durability and what position he'll play at the next level.
At 6-foot-2, 263 pounds, the Youngstown, Ohio native is perceived as a 'tweener,' who could play either his college position of defensive end or outside linebacker at the next level. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr. compared Simon favorably to current Buckeyes defensive line coach Mike Vrabel, who spent 16 seasons in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, and Kansas City Chiefs.
"I like the way he plays the game. He's got a lot of versatility. He plays with energy," Kiper said of Simon. "Energy, kind of like the old Mike Vrabel who came out of Ohio State, had a nice career in NFL. Play down end, gives you some scheme versatility. Great kid. Tremendously hard worker, great passion for the game."
Meyer's admiration for Simon, who he only coached for one season, was no secret, and for good reason. Despite playing in just 11 games last season, Simon recorded a Big Ten best nine sacks, while also tallying 44 tackles, 14.5 of which came for a loss, and defended four passes. In his four-year career, he posted 154 tackles, 42 of which came for a loss, and 20.5 sacks.
While unsure of what position he'll play in the NFL, Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell is confident that Simon will have a successful professional career.
"What is he? I don't know," Fickell said of Simon. "I guarantee you I would take him on my team as fast as I possibly could."
Simon came to Ohio State in 2009 as a three-star defensive tackle prospect out of Cardinal Mooney high school.