EAST LANSING – Antjuan Simmons has been the heart of Michigan State's defense the past two seasons.
The Ann Arbor native started all 20 games and earned All-Big Ten second-team recognition by the media and Associated Press.
In 46 contests, the four-year letterwinner logged 231 career tackles, including 26 for a loss, 4.5 sacks, five pass break-ups, two interceptions, three fumble recoveries, and one forced fumble.
"I would like to thank Coach Tucker for being there for me throughout everything this past year," Simmons wrote on Dec. 18 after declaring for the NFL Draft. "I also would like to thank him for believing in me as a leader and football player as well. I'd also like to thank Coach Dantonio for recruiting me and believing in me. Coach Dantonio always told me I could accomplish big things if I worked for it and remained who I am."
Where does he stack up at the next level? Today, Spartan Nation has brought in college football analyst Jim Mora Jr. to help evaluate Simmons draft stock and much more.
The 6-foot-0 linebacker is undersized, and at this point, he is best suited to play weakside in a 4-3 defense.
"He's not a big thumper type of inside linebacker … you put a defensive lineman in front of him and give him a chance to just run," Mora Jr. said. "I think he's a good downhill player, which means attacking the line of scrimmage is the best thing he does."
However, there are some things he needs to work on ahead of draft night and beyond.
Mora Jr. is concerned with his coverage ability, tackling skills, consistency, and football instincts.
"Linebackers in the NFL have to be able to tackle, and I think he's (Simmons) a good, but not great tackler," said Mora Jr. "He misses too many tackles for a linebacker, and a lot of that has to do with his instincts … sometimes his angles are poor, and when his angles are poor he doesn't put his body in the right position to make a tackle. Therefore, he lacks some consistency."
Even so, the former UCLA head football coach (2012-17) believes the tradition of putting Spartans' in the NFL will continue with Simmons.
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