Work in Sports
'The physical of all physicals'
Eagles tested Simon thoroughly before taking him 6th
Posted: Saturday April 15, 2000 07:01 PM
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The Philadelphia Eagles had nine doctors poke, prod and examine Corey Simon. The defensive lineman called it "the physical of all physicals."
It was enough to persuade Eagles coach Andy Reid, a hearty former lineman himself, to make Simon the sixth pick in the NFL draft on Saturday.
"You are guaranteed by us picking him that we feel the ultimate confidence in his medical history," Reid said.
There are two ways to look at this: Either the Eagles covered all their bases, as they're supposed to, or Simon must be a significant risk if he required that much medical attention. Simon is believed to be the best interior lineman in the draft, but his body has undergone more repairs than the leaky ceilings inside Veterans Stadium.
"I played the last 2 1/2 years without injury," Simon said from his home in Pompano Beach, Fla., before being flown to Philadelphia.
But the 6-foot-1, 293-pound defensive tackle has quite a lengthy medical history for a man just out of college. He understood why the Eagles wanted to check him so thoroughly.
"It's a big investment," Simon said. "They want to make sure they're not getting something tainted."
Simon's problems started with a rotator cuff operation just after high school. His first year with the Seminoles ended after only three games due to a dislocated shoulder that required surgery. In 1997, he missed two games with a cervical neck sprain. He was finally injury-free in 1998 and '99.
"I think he's finally got everything operated on that needs operating on," Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said in October 1998.
The Eagles hope so. They were 5-11 last season, require upgrades at several offensive positions and need to keep building momentum after last year's draft, their best in at least a decade.
While the Eagles needed help on the defensive line, they also badly need two receivers to complement last year's first-round pick, Donovan McNabb. They avoided Plaxico Burress because of character concerns, and were reluctant to use the sixth pick for Travis Taylor, thinking he was a better value at a lower pick.
With only one first-round pick, they had little to offer to trade up. Reid said he had at least one offer to trade down for two first-round picks, but it wasn't enough to justify moving -- even though he was worried Baltimore would take Simon. The Ravens opted for running back Jamal Lewis instead.
One team the Eagles spent a lot of time talking with was the New York Jets, the only team with four first-round selections.
"The offer just had to be phenomenal," Reid said. "Really, the only one who was in a position to do that was [Bill] Parcells, who had 5,000 first-round picks."
Simon played every game as a senior and finished with 84 tackles, including 21 for losses, and four sacks. He was a finalist for the Lombardi and Outland Trophies and made first-team All-ACC as a junior and senior.
Simon denied a report that he was taking medication that would prevent him from using anti-inflammatory drugs. NFL linemen use anti-inflammatory drugs the way the rest of us breathe air. "I'm not on any type of medication," Simon said.
After testing Simon's shoulder, the Eagles followed him to Tallahassee, Fla., to watch him bench press. They were impressed, but it was nothing compared to his leaping ability.
Reid had heard about Simon's 41-inch vertical leap, but he also knew that it can be easy to cheat on those tests. The Eagles put Simon on their own machine to measure his leap -- and he nearly broke it.
"He blew that thing off the chart," Reid beamed. "I'd never seen that before. There's never been a person who took that thing and sent it off the chart and back down."
Reid also urged any critics to go back and listen to every NFL coach's Monday-morning press conferences. When teams win, Reid's theory goes, their coaches' first comments are about the offensive and defensive lines. Same if they lose.
"If there's a good one right there, go get him," Reid said. "It's a slam dunk."