NFL Nation: John Simon


The Baltimore Ravens ran over the New Orleans Saints in a 22-13 win Thursday night in the preseason finale for both teams.

Rookie running backs Lorenzo Taliaferro and Fitzgerald Toussaint combined for 191 yards rushing, as the Ravens sat most of their starters. Toussaint, who is likely headed to the practice squad, rushed for 103 yards on 17 carries. Taliaferro, who could be the Ravens' No. 2 or 3 running back to start the season, gained 88 yards on 25 attempts.

The Ravens didn't play their top three running backs: Ray Rice, who will soon start a two-game suspension; Bernard Pierce, who didn't make the trip to New Orleans because of a concussion; and Justin Forsett, who was given the night off.

This marked the first time since 2009 that the Ravens (4-0) finished the preseason undefeated.

Here are some other thoughts in the Ravens' final preseason game:
  • Backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor continued to put up points. He led the Ravens for scores on four of five drives. For the preseason, he has produced points on 12 (four touchdowns, eight field goals) of 21 drives. His worst throw was chucking the ball downfield into double coverage and getting it intercepted. Taylor finished 10-of-17 for 105 yards and one touchdown. Two of Taylor's passes were batted down at the line while the Ravens were in Saints territory.
  • It's going to be difficult to keep wide receiver Deonte Thompson off the 53-man roster after he scored a touchdown in his third straight game. He took advantage of a coverage breakdown to catch an 8-yard pass from Taylor in the end zone. Rookie seventh-round pick Michael Campanaro, who had 153 total yards, and Kamar Aiken, who led the Ravens with 57 yards receiving, also are in the mix at wide receiver. Could the Ravens keep seven receivers?
  • Second-year linebacker John Simon was the best player on defense. He set the edge against the run and had a handful of quarterback hits. Simon, a fourth-round pick from a year ago, needed a big game to make the roster. He entered the preseason finale on the bubble and put an exclamation on his strong night with a fourth-quarter sack.
  • Undrafted rookie Tramain Jacobs made a costly mistake when he ran into the kicker. Derek Dimke, who had missed the 54-yard field goal attempt, then hit from 49 yards to end the first half. Jacobs is still likely headed for the practice squad.
  • In the fourth quarter, cornerback Derek Cox, who was signed a day before the preseason finale, made an open-field tackle and broke up a third-down pass while covering the slot. It was impressive for a player who hasn't even practiced with the Ravens.
  • Backup guard Ryan Jensen, who is battling rookie John Urschel for a roster spot, was flagged twice for holding, although the last one was questionable. Still, Jensen needed to shine in this game after falling behind Urschel on the depth chart. Jensen was later hurt in the fourth quarter.
  • Justin Tucker was in midseason form, kicking field goals from 36, 27, 45, 32 and 24 yards. His only mistake was throwing his shoulder into a returner and making a tackle on kickoff coverage. Who cares if the Saints scored a touchdown in a preseason game? The Ravens can't afford to lose Tucker to an injury.

Ravens Camp Report: Day 14

August, 11, 2014
Aug 11
4:15
PM ET
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Baltimore Ravens training camp:
  • The play of the day came from an unlikely source. Backup linebacker John Simon made a leaping one-handed interception toward the end of practice. Simon, a 2013 fourth-round pick, is known for his toughness but he often struggles to make plays in space.
  • Biggest rule for all rookies: Don't tick off the owner. Wide receiver Michael Campanaro almost did that Monday, when his parents parked in owner Steve Bisciotti's parking spot (which stands out because his initials "SB" are on it). Security had to get Campanaro to point out his parents in the crowd so the vehicle could be removed before Bisciotti arrived for practice.
  • With both backup defensive ends out for the season, DeAngelo Tyson took over that spot and made a nice play in his new role. Tyson leapt up and authoritatively knocked down a pass with both hands.
  • It was surprising to see wide receiver Torrey Smith fielding punts. Smith brings explosive speed and sure hands to that role. But it's a risk to expose the team's best deep threat to getting injured on special teams. Smith also has virtually no experience in covering punts. He returned one punt in college and has never fielded a punt in three NFL seasons.
  • Rookie third-round pick Terrence Brooks is getting a lot of reps in practice. He worked at nickel back with the first-team defense and moved back to free safety with the second team.
  • The Ravens and 49ers ended their three days of joint practices with a non-contact workout. This came after two days of padded practices for the teams.
  • Schedule: The Ravens are off Tuesday. They hold practices Wednesday and Thursday before wrapping up training camp Friday.
  • Injury wire: Tight end Dennis Pitta missed his second straight practice with what coach John Harbaugh described as a "little ankle sprain." Pitta did individual drills for about 30 minutes before being told to sit out the rest of practice. ... Defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore (Achilles) is scheduled to have season-ending surgery by the end of the week. ... Cornerback Asa Jackson (ankle) was sidelined for his second straight practice. ... Cornerback Lardarius Webb (back) missed his 12th straight practice. He last practiced July 25. ... Guard Will Rackley (head), guard Ryan Jensen (ankle) and safety Brynden Trawick (back) also didn't practice. ... Nose tackle Terrence Cody (hip) is on the physically unable to perform list. ... Defensive end Brent Urban (torn ACL) is out for the season.
Let's break down the Baltimore Ravens' 2013 draft:

FIRST-ROUND SPOTLIGHT: The Ravens made it sound like taking Florida safety Matt Elam with the last pick of the first round was a no-brainer for them. Elam stood out to Baltimore because he was one of the few safety prospects in this draft who has the versatility of being physical enough to play in the box and fast enough to play deep coverage. The Ravens completed the overhaul at safety, going from Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard to Elam and Michael Huff. Elam was the third safety taken in the draft, behind Kenny Vaccaro (15th overall to New Orleans) and Eric Reid (18th to San Francisco). The Ravens picked Elam over linebacker Manti Te'o, safety Johnathan Cyprien, and wide receivers Justin Hunter and Robert Woods, all of whom were selected with the first 10 picks of the second round.

IN HINDSIGHT: The Ravens moved up to get the inside linebacker they wanted in the second round (Arthur Brown), but they weren't aggressive in addressing wide receiver. West Virginia's Stedman Bailey was taken two picks before the Ravens' selection in the third round, and Louisiana Tech's Quinton Patton was drafted one pick before the Ravens were on the clock in the fourth round. It makes you wonder whether the Ravens should have released some players (like fullback Vonta Leach) to keep wide receiver Anquan Boldin and his $6 million salary.

BEST VALUE: DE-OLB John Simon, Ohio State. The Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year lasted until the fourth round. He's known for a relentless motor and for average athleticism. That sounds like a prospect the Ravens drafted in the same round a decade ago, and Jarret Johnson developed into a starter by his third season. Simon was so beloved by Urban Meyer that the Ohio State coach once said he would consider naming a son after him.

TOP LATE-ROUND PICK: DE Kapron Lewis-Moore, Notre Dame. The sixth-round pick is unlikely to see the field this year. After tearing his ACL in the BCS National Championship, he'll essentially be redshirted this season. Multiple knee injuries in college severely hurt his draft stock. If he can stay healthy, the Ravens will look smart in taking a chance on Lewis-Moore, a team captain who has upside as an inside pass-rusher.

SOMEONE WHO DIDN'T LIKE THIS DRAFT: Rolando McClain. The Ravens just didn't draft an inside linebacker. They traded three picks (ones in the second, fifth and sixth rounds) to move up six spots for Brown. When the Ravens signed McClain earlier this month, he was expected to start alongside Jameel McClain in the middle of Baltimore's defense. After McClain's latest arrest and the addition of Brown, you have to wonder how long Rolando McClain will remain on the roster.

Let's take a quick look at what the division teams did in the fourth and fifth rounds:

CINCINNATI BENGALS: The Bengals added much needed speed to their linebacker group with Texas A&M's Sean Porter (fourth round). The outside linebacker is known as a blitzer and will make an immediate impact on special teams. ... Kansas G-T Tanner Hawkinson (fifth round) is a four-year starter who improved his stock in the combine drills. According to Pro Football Weekly, he is nicknamed "Ricky Bobby" because he looks like Will Ferrell.

CLEVELAND BROWNS: The Browns are obviously looking to the future on Day 3 with two trades. They sent their fourth-round pick (No. 111 overall) to the Steelers for a third-rounder in 2014. Cleveland then dealt their fifth-round pick (No. 139) to the Colts for a fourth-rounder in 2014.

BALTIMORE RAVENS: With WR Quinton Patton being selected right before their pick, the Ravens continued to go with defense, taking Ohio State DE-OLB John Simon in the fourth round. He was the Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Year last season but may not have the athleticism for the next level. ... Harvard FB Kyle Juszczyk (fourth round) was Baltimore's first offensive player taken in this draft. This could lead to the Ravens asking FB Vonta Leach to take a pay cut. He is scheduled to earn $3 million in the final year of his contract. ... Wisconsin OT Ricky Wagner (fifth round) is a gritty right tackle prospect. He could struggle with the speed of NFL pass-rushers.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS: The first pick in the division on Day 3 was a Steelers-type safety. Pittsburgh traded with Cleveland to move up to take Syracuse's Shamarko Thomas, a hard-hitting, high-motor defensive back who will have a shot to start in 2014. How much did the Steelers like Thomas? They sent their 2014 third-round pick to the Browns to get him. ... The Steelers decided to go with Oklahoma's Landry Jones as their developmental quarterback. Pittsburgh took him in the fourth round, the highest the Steelers have used a pick on a quarterback since drafting Ben Roethlisberger in the 2004 first round. ... Like they usually do at this point in the draft, the Steelers took a cornerback in the fifth round. Illinois' Terry Hawthorne can make athletic plays and has experience as a returner. Some questions about mental toughness linger.

Another Mel mock? You bet!

April, 17, 2013
4/17/13
2:52
PM ET
Mel Kiper Jr. goes three rounds deep in a mock draft today, just eight days removed from the start of the real thing.

You can peruse the team-by-team resultsInsider or follow his draft in order.Insider

Jacksonville Jaguars

Rd. 1 (2) OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
Rd. 2 (33) QB Matt Barkley, USC
Rd. 3 (64) CB Johnthan Banks, Mississippi St.

Kiper’s analysis: I know this isn't the biggest need on the board, but given where Jacksonville is from a personnel standpoint, if the best player in the draft is available at the No. 2 pick -- and my current left tackle is potentially gone after this year -- I'm taking the guy. This is a franchise that has taken the guy it wants and eschewed great value too many times in recent years, but that's not the case here. Take Joeckel, get better at tackle, do a better job of protecting the QB and whether I stick with Blaine Gabbert or let the next guy take over, I've at least given him a reasonable chance to succeed. That next guy might be the second-round pick.

My thoughts: Kiper has Detroit moving up to No. 1 for cornerback Dee Milliner, which leaves Joeckel available for the Jaguars. The Jaguars need a sure thing, and this is a tackle rated as a sure thing, so I don't think you factor Eugene Monroe into it too much.


Tennessee Titans

Rd. 1 (10) G Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
Rd. 2 (40) WR Justin Hunter, Tennessee
Rd. 3 (70) DE Alex Okafor, Texas
Rd. 3 (97) DE John Simon, Ohio St.

Kiper’s analysis: The way the board breaks, Cooper becomes the best value at a need spot. With (Ezekiel) Ansah going to Buffalo at No. 8, I look to improve my other guard position. With Cooper and free-agent acquisition Andy Levitre, I could have one of the better guard tandems in the league. Shonn Greene is on the roster because there's going to be more of an emphasis on power running, and Cooper helps accomplish that.

My thoughts: I don’t believe they’d prefer Cooper to Chance Warmack if both are on the board as they are here. Cooper may rate as more athletic, but the Titans got their athletic, pulling guard in Levitre. If they go guard I think they’d like a power tandem in pairing Warmack with right tackle David Stewart. Hunter seems like good value and can help them get past Kenny Britt after his contract runs out. I don’t expect two of the four top picks to be spent on one position as Kiper does here in the third-round at defensive end.

Indianapolis Colts

Rd. 1 (24) CB Desmond Trufant, Washington
Rd. 3 (86) OLB Trevardo Williams, Connecticut

Kiper’s analysis: Vontae Davis is a decent starter at CB when he's playing up to his full capability, but Greg Toler is a fringy starter. If the board breaks this way, I'd be getting below average value at outside linebacker and guard right here, and Cordarrelle Patterson and Tavon Austin are off the board. (Also, wide receiver is a need, but not a desperate one.) Where I end up is with Trufant, a cornerback with a diverse skill set. He can work in man or zone and offers defenses some flexibility.

My thoughts: Versatility is good, but ultimately if they have sufficient man corners, the ability of their DBs to play zone shouldn’t matter a great deal in Chuck Pagano’s system. Davis, Toler and Darius Butler are not enough as the top three so if they can land a top corner at No. 24 that will be great. Kiper sees Williams as a guy who can help the pass rush quickly and they need that badly, too.

Houston Texans

Rd. 1 (27) OT Menelik Watson, Florida St.
Rd. 2 (57) WR Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech
Rd. 3 (89) LB Steve Beauharnais, Rutgers
Rd. 3 (95) FB Lonnie Pryor, Florida St.

Kiper’s analysis: The Texans need a right tackle, and Watson's grade fits this draft range for me. He's a great athlete, and could certainly challenge to start early. I know some NFL personnel folks who think he could move inside, but in either instance I'm looking for help up front. This offensive system starts there, and you need a nimble guy for the scheme.

My thoughts: I wouldn’t object to these first three picks, though I do not expect the Texans to go offensive line in the first round. As for Pryor, Kiper says part of the rationale for putting him in Houston is that Greg Jones “isn’t a true fullback.” I respectively disagree with that so long as Jones is healthy.

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