TOWSON, Md. -- In a non-conference matchup between Landon (Bethesda, Md.) of the IAC and Loyola (Towson, Md.) of the MIAA, the visiting Bears fell to the host Dons, 19-14, Sept. 18. TT was on hand to scout Terps’ outside linebacker target Keith Simms, who had 10 tackles, a sack and two pass breakups in his team’s victory.
A scouting report is below, while a video interview with Simms can be seen above:
A versatile linebacker who can play with his hand in the dirt, as a standup rush-end, or even slide inside to a pseudo-MIKE spot, Simms has developed into a jack-of-all-trades. He isn’t necessarily outstanding in any one area, but has plenty of skills that translate to the next level.
Physically, Simms has a long, sturdy frame at 6-feet-3, 235 pounds, and could probably pack on another 10 pounds or so before reaching college. A well-built, sturdy prospect, Simms has very little, if any, bad weight. He also possesses fairly lengthy arms and strong hands, which will help when disengaging.
Regardless of where Simms lines up, he excels at getting downhill, either attacking the gaps or corralling backs in space. At the snap, Simms gains a solid initial jump, a product of his anticipation/field awareness and short-area acceleration. When Simms reads “run,” he bursts forward; picks up momentum; gets low; and finishes off his man. Even when he’s lined up at inside backer, Simms does well getting “skinny” in the holes and locating backs in traffic.
When rushing the passer at defensive end/stand-up end, Simms flashes an above-average get-off, sometimes beating the offensive tackle before he can enter his stance. He comes off the ball low and hard, firing his hands up and gaining extension. Simms typically strikes underneath the pads and then works to beat his man to the inside.
Like most high school ends/rush linebackers, Simms relies on a bull-rush, but he’s not a one-trick pony. Simms also possesses a rip-and-go, while he has the deftness to feint outside before cutting back inside. Moreover, Simms will scrap through the whistle, consistently working to disengage and get to the quarterback. And when Simms gets by the tackle, he explodes into the backfield. He has excellent closing speed, giving the signal caller little chance to scramble away.
It should be noted that Simms is athletic enough to disrupt passing lanes if he’s unable reach the quarterback. When the ball’s about to come out, Simms can stop his pursuit; leap up; and either tip the pass away or force a wayward throw.
While Simms does his best work coming forward, he has solid lateral agility too. Simms runs well down the line, showing the open-field prowess needed to track down backs. On outside runs, he can catch runners before they hit the edge, while he possesses enough raw speed to catch runners from behind.
Indeed, it’s the closing speed that’s truly impressive here. Simms seems to pick up steps, gathering momentum the further he has to run. In fact, he’s been known to span the entire field in order to track down running backs. He also takes tight closing angles to the ball, which only aids in his pursuit.
But Simms can do more than just read, react and run. He also breaks down well and maintains his lanes. When Simms can’t make the play himself, he does a good job funneling runners inside, allowing his teammates to clean up.
It follows that Simms can cover too. He’s loose and fluid enough to drop back and pick up tight ends/receivers working underneath. Simms isn’t going to hang with speedy slot receivers, but he can stick with tight ends down the field.
To improve, Simms mainly needs to add more power, especially when rushing the passer. His quickness, advanced moves and athleticism allow him to get to the quarterback now, but he’ll need more point-of-attack potency to push past college-level tackles. Even in high school, Simms can be stalemated by superior offensive linemen.
Speaking of power, Simms doesn’t always finish with a “thump.” He’s a very good wrap-up tackler and allows little leaky yardage, but his hits do not “reverberate.” As Simms gains strength and builds up his body, perhaps he’ll develop into a decleater.
Also, while Simms has the long arms to keep blockers out of his body, sometimes he has trouble getting off blocks. Simms can be neutralized when attempting to pick through the trash moving laterally and/or when he’s working through the gaps. Thus, he’ll have to get even stronger and continue honing his hand placement to become more effective.
Lastly, Simms must improve his drops in coverage. He’s a decent cover-backer now, but it would behoove him work on his footwork (it can be a bit methodical when dropping back) and change-of-direction to succeed in college.