April 25, 2018
Jon Cooper | The Good Word
Name a famous Johnson associated with Georgia Tech football.
Chances are you first thought of current head coach Paul or soon-to-be College Football Hall of Famer (and future lock for the Pro Football Hall of Fame) Calvin.
It probably wasn’t current Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Michael, even though the former first-team all-American is entering his 10th season in the NFL after being drafted out of Tech in the third round in 2009.
Face it, defense doesn’t really come to mind for most when they think of the NFL talent that Georgia Tech has produced in Paul Johnson’s 10 seasons as head coach. However, 11 defensive Yellow Jackets have been drafted during the Paul Johnson era and multiple Tech defenders have been selected in four of the last 10 NFL Drafts.
Antonio “Amp” Simmons may become the 12th this weekend, when the NFL holds the 2018 edition of the draft. It runs Thursday-Saturday in Arlington, Texas.
Simmons put together a fine playing career as a Yellow Jacket, compiling 81 tackles, including 17 for loss, 7.5 sacks and four forced fumbles in 43 career games. His play charted well analytically, as ProFootballFocus.com ranked him fourth in pass-rush productivity among all collegiate 4-3 defensive ends in 2017 while also placing him among the top 20 in the ’18 draft class in three different rush moves — inside rush (No. 9), outside rush (No. 10) and bull rush (No. 15). Simmons also rated well against the run, with his 8.4 run-stop percentage coming in at 16th.
However, it was his performance during Georgia Tech’s Pro Day on March 16 that shot him up the draft charts. A leaner Simmons — he weighed in at 245 pounds, having gained 15 pounds and dropped body fat by five percent on his 6-3 frame — put on a show, running a blazing 4.45-second 40 yard dash and bench-pressing 225 pounds a whopping 30 times.
“Some clocked me at a 4.3, some clocked me at a 4.4. I just know I was moving,” he said, with a laugh, following the show he put on at Tech’s John and Mary Brock Indoor Facility. “This actually was my first time running the 40 (yard dash). I’ve just been working on my starts. So that was my main focus. I knew if my 10-yard split was good, my 40 was going to be good.”
His display on the bench left scouts wanting more and Simmons admitted that he could have obliged.
“I knew I was going to get 30,” he said. “I thought I could have got to 31, 32.”
Following the impressive display, Simmons jumped to No. 24 out of 135 defensive ends in DraftScout.com’s 2018 NFL Draft rankings.
So what would Simmons tell NFL GMs, coaches and scouts that might be looking at him to join Michael Johnson, Vance Walker, Derrick Morgan, Morgan Burnett and Jeremiah Attaochu among the GT defenders who have been drafted during Paul Johnson’s 10 seasons on The Flats?
“I’ve got a lot to prove,” Simmons said. “I still haven’t hit the peak of my potential. So give me a chance.”