The NFL Scouting Combine was inescapable around the Michael Johnson Performance Athletic Training Center in McKinney, Texas, a north Dallas suburb.
As former Missouri safety Ian Simon trained there during the last week, it was omnipresent on the televisions around the compound, but he didn’t let the crown jewel of the NFL’s pre-draft process consume much more of his time than occasional glances between workout sets.
Simon wasn’t among the 332 players invited to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for the annual NFL player evaluation, which wrapped up Monday with the defensive backs being put through their paces.
He wouldn’t have turned down an invitation, which was extended to 59 defensive backs this season, but Simon also isn’t losing any sleep that he wasn’t asked to take part in the 2016 NFL Combine.
“I’ve made my peace with all that,” Simon said by phone last week. “I’m not the type of person to dwell on something. If I wasn’t invited to a party, I’m not going to sit here and mope around because I wasn’t invited. I’m going to go do my own thing. Life goes on, so I’m not going to make a big deal about it.”
Three former Tigers — center Evan Boehm from Lee’s Summit West, linebacker Kentrell Brothers and guard Connor McGovern — were invited to Indianapolis. Simon paid attention to their workouts, but didn’t have much interest in the rest of the proceedings.
“I’m happy for the guys to get the honor and privilege to go,” Simon said. “I’m very happy and very proud of those guys, but I’m looking forward to my Pro Day (on March 23 in Columbia). That’s my focus. I’m not going be sore or beat up about it.”
Former Mizzou kicker Andrew Baggett, a Lee’s Summit North graduate, feels the same way. He recognized that only six kickers were invited to the Combine and instead focused on being grateful for other opportunities he received.
“Obviously, you want to be invited, but, at the same time, a lot of those guys that are invited didn’t get invited to play in one of the bowl games,” Baggett said. “I was fortunate enough to be in front of scouts and coaches four or five days. While I’d like to be there, I’ve already had an opportunity to showcase myself.”
Baggett was 6 of 7 on field goals with a long of 50 yards Jan. 23 in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. He was selected the MVP after also connecting from 36, 42, 39, 24 and 22 yards. The only miss came on a 54-yard try.
Baggett is wrapping up his final semester as an engineering major at Missouri, and also has been to non-Combine showcase events. He’s trying to find an agent without too many kickers already on his client roster in hopes of getting a training-camp invitation — unless someone wants to draft him first.
Simon said he also experienced some benefit by not being invited to the Combine.
“They’ve (the Combine invitees) been on a crunch,” Simon said. “Whereas we train once a day, they’ve been training twice a day. We pretty much have double the time that they do, so they’ve been trying to squeeze as much as possible in a short amount of time. We’ve been able to slow it down a little and really focus in on the details of every little thing. Not going to the Combine is a blessing in a way, because you get more time and it takes the pressure off you not to be at your peak right now.”
Simon said he’s working to refine his technique in hopes of posting a sizzling 40-yard dash time at Missouri’s Pro Day. He already feels confident in his 20-yard shuttle, three-cone drill and vertical and broad jumps.
Like Baggett, he met with a few teams, including the Giants and Rams, during a recent showcase event.
“There’s definitely some interest out there for me for sure,” Simon said. “All I want is a shot. Drafted or not, that’s great, but I just want my opportunity. I know I’m going to give it my all and do my best to turn some heads and make whatever team I’m on. I just want that opportunity.”