The Las Vegas Raiders linebacker corps needs an upgrade this off-season. Aside from Denzel Perryman, the unit in 2022 was one of the team’s most prominent eyesores. With plenty of salary cap space and draft capital, expect the team to address the position this offseason. However, in the 2023 NFL Draft, Clemson’s Trenton Simpson could become a star for the Silver and Black’s beleaguered unit.
Trenton Simpson’s Background
Simpson is originally from a military family in Charlotte, North Carolina. His father was a well-esteemed Army Command Sergeant Major that served with Ranger units.
Honored to recognize Trenton Simpsonâ€™s fatherâ€”Command Sergeant Major, Timothy SimpsonðŸ’œðŸ‡ºðŸ‡¸ pic.twitter.com/AoBvjUpNJU
— Clemson Football (@ClemsonFB) November 13, 2021
As a high school athlete, he played on both sides of football as a running back and linebacker. This was good enough to make 6-foot-3, 240-pound standout a five-star recruit and a top 30 player in the country deemed by 247Sports.com and Rivals.com. At Clemson University, he was recruited by then-famed collegiate defensive coordinator Brent Venables. Venables utilized him in various positions across the defense in his first two seasons. In 2021, he earned All-ACC selections from Pro Football Focus (second team) and Phil Steele (third team). However, it was his junior year in which he showed the caliber of prospect he could become as he was a Butkus Award finalist (best LB), Lott Impact Trophy Finalist (best in character and performance), All-ACC academic team, and All-ACC selection.
Elite Athletic Ability Shines in Simpson’s Play.
Regarding athletic ability, Trenton Simpson can run with anyone, especially opposing running backs, slot receivers, and tight ends.
A bright defensive staff is going to turn Trenton Simpson into a great chess piece at the next level
He can match up with bigger targets in the slot, + speed with range and will help contain athletic passers trying to get out of the pocket pic.twitter.com/FNYJECAG70
— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) February 8, 2023
He shows an excellent change of direction, closing speed, and hip fluidity no matter where he is on the football field. This is also ideal for blitz packages, as he can hone in on the most mobile quarterbacks. TheÂ North Carolina native thrived while aligned as a WILL backer and safety because of his natural ability to close from depth.
Trenton Simpson shows blitz, but instead drops into coverage against the RB after the ball has been snapped.
Keeps his eyes upfield on the QB, makes his pursuit once the passer is flushed to his left, showing incredible burst as he flattens him for the sack. #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/kYzrf5B6Sz
— WBG84 (@WBG84) January 26, 2023
However, some overlook underrated aspects of his game due to his elite ability to play in space as a zone defender.
Trenton Simpson’s Underrated but Above Average Qualities.
A facet of many athletically gifted defenders is that, at times, they are hesitant to play with physicality. But Trenton Simpson is as physical a player as they come.Â
Trenton Simpson stops this 4th & 6 conversion attempt after initially lining up as a safety 15 yards away from when the ball was in the quarterbacks hands.
Can't rave enough about his versatility and range as a defensive player. #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/VD6arugimj
— WBG84 (@WBG84) January 27, 2023
Last but most certainly not least is Simpson’s above-average mental processing. He is an instinctual player who was often utilized from many different positions but consistently fulfilled his role as a team player first. So, does he fit in with the Silver and Black?
The Raiders Need Simpson’s Athletic Ability Alone.
For the Las Vegas Raiders, the Clemson standout backer checks many boxes. The Raider defense lacks an elite athlete in the team’s back seven. For Simpson, his range would be coveted in defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s scheme. Additionally, he could be moved around and fulfill various rolesÂ in coverage or as a blitzer. Where Trenton Simpson has not shown much promise is as a stack or MIKE backer.
He’s similar to a sports car, as they do better in open spaces. In conclusion, he is a top-tier defensive talent. The Las Vegas Raiders need more disciplined difference-makers on that side of the football, and the former heart of Clemson’s defense can be a foundational cornerstone.
*Top Photo: USA Today Sports
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