Trenton Simpson DRAFT PROFILE – 2023 NFL DRAFT
Trenton Simpson NFL DRAFT SCOUTING REPORT INTRODUCTION
Trenton Simpson, a standout athlete from Mallard Creek High School, was a 5-star recruit coming out of high school. Following a highly competitive recruitment process, Simpson ultimately joined the Clemson football team.
During his freshman year in 2020, Simpson demonstrated his capabilities by participating in 11 games and completing 283 snaps as a linebacker for the Tigers. He recorded a total of 16 tackles and 3 assists, with an additional 15 stops. Simpson’s performance in coverage, however, was less noteworthy, as he did not achieve any pass breakups (had three pass breakups the following year) or interceptions, and received a QB rating of 137.8 when targeted. As a pass rusher, he contributed 17 total pressures, including 7 QB hurries, 7 QB hits, and 3 sacks, and one forced fumble throughout the season.
Simpson continued to prove himself as a formidable player during his sophomore year in 2021, playing in 13 games and completing 569 snaps. He tallied 52 tackles and 4 assists, while impressively adding 35 stops. In coverage, Simpson showcased a solid QB rating of 82.2 when targeted, with three pass breakups. As a pass rusher, he generated 31 total pressures, including 11 QB hurries, 13 QB hits, two forced fumbles, and 7 sacks throughout the year.
During his junior year in 2022, Simpson continued to be a valuable asset to the Clemson team, playing in 12 games and contributing on 622 snaps. He recorded 51 tackles, 17 assists, and 29 stops. In coverage, Simpson achieved a QB rating of 96.5 when targeted. However, his pass rushing production experienced a decline, as he generated 16 total pressures, including 11 QB hurries, 3 QB hits, and 2 sacks throughout the year.
Trenton Simpson DRAFT PROFILE
Simpson’s peak performance during his time with Clemson was in 2021, under the leadership of then-Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables. Venables maximized Simpson’s abilities by utilizing him in various roles, allowing him to get plenty of game time. Simpson earned his bachelor’s degree in Communications from Clemson in just three years, graduating in December of the same year he left for the NFL.
Throughout his career with the Tigers, Simpson was a versatile player, and this was evident in his performance. He was an elusive player who was hard to track, and Venables recognized this, making Simpson a key player in different positions on the field. He played as a deep safety, as well as taking on various other roles, including playing as a pressure player and as a WILL linebacker.
Simpson’s ability to contribute in different positions is an asset that many modern linebackers lack, and he is ready to showcase his skills in the NFL. Although his usage varied in 2022, Simpson has the explosiveness and length to fulfill his role as a pressure player in multiple front defenses. He is an excellent finisher and can run through blocks with ease. His athleticism is impressive, and he is a player with plenty of pathways to contribute to any defense.
In 2022, Simpson took on the role of a stack linebacker, which was a challenge for him (especially in zone), as he lost some of his explosive burst to attack the football. However, this is an area where he can improve with time and practice. His length and explosiveness are remarkable, but he needs to work on his strike accuracy early in reps to make more of an impact.
It will depend on the team that drafts him to determine the expectations for Simpson. If they are looking to develop him into a traditional stack linebacker, there may be a lag in his development. However, if they empower him to fulfill his impact role, he is a plus starter that will thrive in the NFL.
Trenton Simpson 40 yard dash- 4.45 SECONDS
Trenton Simpson NFL DRAFT PLAYER COMPARISON- Isaiah Simmons/Jeremiah Owusu Koramoah
SCOUTING REPORT- STRENGTHS
Simpson’s initial quickness and flexibility make him a player to watch, as he can dip and bend with ease. He has active hands and moves suddenly, making it difficult for his opponents to counter his movements. Simpson also displays a burst of speed to close in on his targets. He is capable of explosive hits and is a good lateral and downfield pursuer.
Simpson’s physical attributes are fantastic and he has impressive strength, evidenced by his 375-pound bench press, 355-pound power clean, 35-inch vertical jump, and 10-2 broad jump.
Simpson handles misdirection well, with quick change-of-direction abilities, and comes downhill quickly when he has an open lane. He is a player who always tries to plow into the largest piles, and his ability to glue himself to the ball carrier is impressive.
Simpson is a sure and violent tackler, with excellent sideline-to-sideline range. He is skilled in tackling in space, with loose hips and the ability to break down and contain runners. He is also a fluid mover in pursuit, capable of making plays down the line.
SCOUTING REPORT- Weaknesses
While Simpson is strong at attacking downhill, he can occasionally get too aggressive and overshoot plays, leaving cutback lanes open for counter inside runs for ball carriers for them to reach the second level. He struggles a bit as a run defender, often getting outmatched at the point of attack. He needs to add muscle mass before and during his rookie season to fit as a starter at weakside linebacker who can battle in the box against an NFL tackle.
Unfortunately, Simpson had a subpar year in 2022 and was taken out of the game on several occasions. His performance as a pass rusher suffered a decline across all aspects. While he has the capability to convert speed into power when making contact with the ball carrier, he often misses tackles or resorts to being a grab-and-drag tackler, failing to drive his legs through the hit.
Trenton Simpson did not have many opportunities to play as a stack linebacker in his previous position. It is likely that he will need to add more muscle mass to his frame to be able to play at the next level. He must also work on his hands when taking on blocks.
He struggled at Clemson with pass breakups when used as an overhang defender instead of on the line and in the box as an edge rusher. He has the skill set to match up well against athletic NFL tight ends, but his Clemson tape didn’t necessarily show that.
He did miss his final game with an ankle injury, but he doesn’t a persistent injury concern.
Finally, Simpson needs to improve his discipline when covering opponents man-to-man. He has room for growth in this area and must work to become more consistent in his coverage skills.
Trenton Simpson 2023 NFL DRAFT SUMMARY
Although Simpson has impressive natural athletic abilities, he still has room for growth and may struggle with some of the more complex roles of a linebacker in the NFL. To be successful, he needs to improve his skills in negotiating blocks and targeting the correct point of attack.
Simpson’s performance regressed slightly in 2022, which may cause some teams to drop him on their draft boards. However, despite this setback, it is unlikely that Simpson will drop out of the first round and into the second round. He has the potential to develop into a pro bowl level player and should not be overlooked based on his current performance alone.
A team should be prepared to use him as a hybrid defender and ensure he is a scheme fit before selecting him. He shouldn’t be locked into a single position and his tape at Clemson is best when he’s moved around the defense and freed up as a football player.
- Amazing athlete and a good matchup against tight ends
- Blazing speed to blow past blocks and get sacks off the edge
- Ability to be a versatile defensive weapon and starter
- May not be a full-fledged, all downs day 1 starter
- Needs more weight to his frame
- Decreased sacks production and not fantastic in zone coverage on second level
Clemson LB Trenton Simpson is our 30th ranked prospect and the 3rd ranked linebacker.