The Arizona Cardinals front office hit the jackpot when they selected linebacker Isaiah Simmons with the eighth-overall pick
Things couldn’t have worked out better for the Arizona Cardinals this past Thursday evening. The NFL Draft was underway, and a freakishly-talented defender was inching closer to the grasp of general manager Steve Keim. Ultimately, with the eighth-overall selection, the Cards landed the player who appeared to be nothing more than a pipedream for the club a couple of months ago.
After the smoke had cleared, Arizona emerged from the draft’s opening night with Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons. There was talk in the weeks leading up to the three-day event that Keim would consider moving down in the first round for extra picks. When Simmons dropped into their laps, however, the Cardinals braintrust felt that they had no choice but to take him.
What makes Simmons so unique is the fact that he can line up all over the field. While listed as a linebacker, the 6’4, 238 pounder has also performed well at safety and slot cornerback. “The biggest thing I can say about Isaiah is if you get 53 men on a roster, he’s like having 56”, remarked Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney.
Simmons helped his draft stock immensely at the NFL Combine back in February. The 21-year old posted a lightning-fast 40-yard dash time of 4.39 seconds, the second-best time of any linebacker since 2003. Simmons also registered an excellent 11 feet in the broad jump, and recorded a 39-inch vertical jump as well.
The Cards could’ve went in several other directions with their top choice. Offensive possibilities included wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, or tackles such as Jedrick Wills, Mekhi Becton or Tristan Wirfs. On the other side of the ball, Arizona chose Simmons over fellow defenders like cornerback C.J. Henderson and defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw.
When all was said and done, the Cardinals acquired a flat-out stud for their beleaguered defense. After an awful performance from the unit in 2019, coordinator Vance Joseph can use all of the help he can get. Playmakers were needed, and you can be sure that Simmons certainly fits that description.