Can you imagine what the Steelers in the 1990’s could have been had they drafted Spielman and what he would have brought to them on the field and in the locker room? I am willing to bet there would have been no music dance video before the 1994 AFC Championship game against the Chargers, a few more playoff wins and maybe even a Superbowl win or two. There is no substitute for that kind of leadership from that kind of a player.
So that brings me to this year’s draft. Why does it remind me of 1988 NFL Draft? Who is it that I am hoping the Steelers will take? Chris Spielman or rather the second coming of Chris Spielman: Ohio State University defensive end John Simon. Simon projects as either inside or outside linebacker which is one of many reasons why I love this pick. The parallels between Simon and Spielman are uncanny. Both played at high school powerhouses in northeast Ohio. Both were all state performers and state defensive players of the year. Spielman was 6’0” 247. Simon is 6’01’ 256. Both have legendary work ethics. Both went to Ohio State, both played immediately, both were team captains and the unequivocal team leaders, both won multiple individual awards, both starred for four years and neither is or was considered NFL first round draft material.
Like Spielman, Simon’s was an outstanding football player at OSU and like Spielman his college statistics were outstanding. But that is not what this article is about. It is about the immeasurable he brings on top of his ability that the Steelers need desperately right now. With their reported “fractured locker-room” and loss of recent veteran leaders Hines Ward, James Farrior, Aaron Smith, James Harrison and with more to come sooner rather than later like Ryan Clark, Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor and Brett Kiesel, the Steelers now more than ever need a player and a leader like Simon. If you do enough research about Simon you will discover that besides being a great football player he is a leader of men, he leads by example, he leads by his voice, he has a burning desire to succeed not only for himself but for his teammates, he is an underdog with a chip on his shoulder, plays with passion, a football junkie, has a will that can’t be broken, plays with a high motor, always comes ready to play, plays with heart, is tough, instinctual, intelligent and plays with guts. Simon was a disrupter and always in the opponents backfield and he did this on…… the defensive line. Let me remind you that every week he gave up 3 to 4 inches and 50 pounds plus to the offensive lineman he faced but yet dominated the line of scrimmage. Urban Meyer called Simon “the soul” of the Buckeyes. Who does that sound like? Don’t the Steelers need someone like this? I would say they desperately do.
The first round is littered with busts every year. Would anyone in Steeler Nation actually re-draft Mendenhall, Ziggy Hood or Cameron Heyward now? Yet they were all accepted as viable choices then. What NFL team wouldn’t draft James Harrison in the first round of the 2002 Draft if they could re-do it again? I know Simon is not considered a first round pick on anyone’s board. But I don’t think the Steelers or anyone for that matter should let him go past round 2. So when the Steelers draft next week this is what I am hoping for.