Cardinals land versatile defender Simmons at No. 8 overall

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The Arizona Cardinals selected linebacker Isaiah Simmons out of Clemson eighth overall in the 2020 NFL Draft.

A linebacker by trade, Simmons also possesses the athleticism of a safety. He impressed scouts at the combine by running a 4.39 40-yard time. The Cardinals ranked last in yards allowed per game in 2019 and 28th in points surrendered per contest.

Arizona held the first overall pick a year ago and used it on quarterback Kyler Murray, who went on to win Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.

Prospect Profile

School: Clemson
Height: 6-4
Weight: 238 lbs

Positives

  • Unmatched versatility to play all over the field
  • Elite athletic profile as linebacker or safety
  • High-end processing ability for quick reads as run defender
  • Explosive, with closing speed for limitless range vs. run
  • Utilizes length while flashing good stack and shed ability against blocks
  • Balance, quickness, and awareness to work through traffic
  • Great finisher with a wide tackle radius
  • Fluid feet and hips in man coverage vs. slot receiver or tight end
  • Plus coverage range and ball skills as deep safety
  • Outstanding blitzer coming from any area

Negatives

  • Still developing feel for zone coverage as linebacker underneath
  • Better zone instincts when play is kept in front of him
  • Needs more play strength vs. NFL linemen in run game

Bottom Line

Simmons is a unicorn made for the modern NFL. Capable of playing both linebacker and safety, he can be the ultimate chess piece for defensive coordinators seeking solutions to the nightmare-inducing problems opposing offenses are throwing their way. Some will envision Simmons exclusively at linebacker, while others see him as a safety. But putting him in a do-it-all role similar to the one he played in college may be the most sensible. The Clemson star is the kind of talent you want moving all over the field to create the most favorable matchups, making it more difficult for opponents to game plan. He's a special talent.

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Cardinals land versatile defender Simmons at No. 8 overall
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