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'The physical of all physicals'

Eagles tested Simon thoroughly before taking him 6th

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Posted: Saturday April 15, 2000 07:01 PM

  Corey Simon Corey Simon has had his share of injuries, but the 293-pounder also has a 41-inch vertical leap. AP

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.

Eagles First-Round Draft Picks
Year  Player  Pos  School 
2000  Corey Simon  DT  Florida State 
1999  Donovan McNabb  QB  Syracuse 
1998  Tra Thomas  OT  Florida State 
1997  Jon Harris  DE  Virginia 
1996  Jermane Mayberry  OT  Tex. A&M-Kings. 
1995  Mike Mamula  DE  Boston College 
1994  Bernard Williams  Georgia 
1993  Lester Holmes  Jackson State 
1992  NO PICK        
1991  Antone Davis  Tennessee 
1990  Ben Smith  Georgia 
1989  NO PICK       
1988  Keith Jackson  TE  Oklahoma 
1987  Jerome Brown  DT  Miami 
1986  Keith Byars  RB  Ohio State 
1985  Kevin Allen  Indiana 
1984  Kenny Jackson  WR  Penn State 
1983  Michael Haddix  RB  Miss. State 
1982  Mike Quick  WR  N. C. State 
1981  Leonard Mitchell  DE  Houston 
1980  Roynell Young  DB  Alcorn State 
1979  Jerry Robinson  LB  UCLA 
1978  NO PICK       
1977  NO PICK       
1976  NO PICK       
1975  NO PICK       
1974  NO PICK       
1973  Jerry Sisemore  Texas 
1973  Charle Young  TE  USC 
1972  John Reaves  QB  Florida 
1971  Richard Harris  DE  Grambling 
1970  Steve Zabel  LB  Oklahoma 
Since 1970
X -- No. 1 pick
 
 

"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."


 
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