Armando Salguero

Don’t discount Miami Dolphins picking controversial defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons

He is likely out for the 2019 season because he’s recovering from surgery to repair a torn ACL and meniscus in the knee he injured in February. There’s also a very troubling video from three years ago in which he’s seen punching a defenseless woman while she’s on the ground.

Jeffery Simmons has some serious red flags to worry about on the eve of the NFL draft.

But chances are Simmons will be drafted Thursday (late in the first round) or more likely Friday (at some point in the second round) because he is simply a very good football player.

And the Miami Dolphins have had serious talks about drafting Simmons, according to a team source.

They’ve talked about it as an organization.

They’ve talked about it with him directly, as he was one of the players they brought to their Davie, Florida training facility.

That visit, by the way, was to check on Simmons’s knee and makeup as the team tried to gather as much information as possible before deciding whether picking the player might be more than merely an outside possibility.

Interesting, right?

Because the Dolphins interest (or lack of it) would say a lot about how far they’re willing to go to add a good but controversial player.

And let’s start with the easy stuff first: Simmons has been a very good player and would be a high first-round prospect were it not for the injury and assault incident.

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Simmons played primarily as a three-technique (4-3 rush tackle) at Mississippi State but he has the body and elite athletic ability to be an excellent 5-technique as well. The Dolphins, whose new coach Brian Flores has talked extensively about having a versatile defense manned by versatile players, would love Simmons’s versatility.

So would the rest of the NFL.

One scout estimated Tuesday if Simmons was “clean” he’d be a “top 10 pick because he’s pure and simple a blue chip guy.”

But Simmons isn’t clean.

The incident, which was recorded and disseminated on the internet, shows Simmons repeatedly punching the woman who had gotten into a fight with his sister. And the woman is seen lying face-down on the ground. And Simmons, standing over her, is seen punching her for about four seconds before retreating.

This happened in 2016 when Simmons was still in high school and before he enrolled at Mississippi State.

Simmons pleaded no contest to simple assault in July of 2016. He was fined $175 for his simple assault plea, and was fined another $300 for being found guilty of malicious mischief. He was to pay at least $800 in restitution.

The conditions of his enrollment in 2016 also required evaluation by the university’s Student Counseling Services and the completion of any program prescribed by that office, according to the Jackson, Miss., Clarion Ledger.

MSU shielded Simmons from much media scrutiny, but in one availability he apologized for his actions to the woman her family. He also spoke of carrying a 4.0 grade point average his first semester at MSU.

And he addressed the troubling video.

“During the time, I really didn’t know I did that and when I actually watched the video, I kind of had a mental breakdown like, ‘Dang, this can’t be true,’” Simmons said in March 2017.

Because of the episode, the NFL did not invite Simmons to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. And that’s when the player’s other problem happened because he injured his knee while training on his own.

So would the Dolphins, who have traditionally shied away from players such as Joe Mixon because of violence issues against women, make an exception for Simmons?

No source is saying.

But it’s probably not a pick the Dolphins would make at No. 13 overall.

Simmons would be a great value at 13 if he was healthy. And if he’d never punched that lady. But both are problematic now. So forget No. 13.

Miami has also seriously weighed trade-down scenarios. And in such a scenario, if the team hypothetically drops 10 or so spots and picks up an extra third-round pick or an extra second-round pick next year, Simmons could become a factor.

How?

Well, again, not likely in the first round. Remember, he’s not expected to play in 2019. But in the second round, when Miami has the 48th overall selection, picking Simmons might tempt general manager Chris Grier.

And in that case, the addition of the extra third-rounder would still give Grier a player that will play in 2019 that he lost with the selection of Simmons in the second round.

If the compensation is a second next year, then so be it. The Dolphins would consider themselves getting two first-round-caliber players next year -- their 2020 first-rounder and Simmons, playing for the first time -- plus an extra second-rounder.

One assumes this discussion was had internally after Simmons visited and a decision on his status to the team was made. It is not clear if the Dolphins decided Simmons remained a possibility or not after the visit.

Owner Stephen Ross would likely have to sign off on picking a gamble such as Simmons.

Even in the second round. Or any round, really.

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