Just a quick disclaimer: Simmons makes this list regardless if he comes up big in overtime during last week’s win against the Seattle Seahawks. In fact, Simmons belonged on this list the second the Cardinals drafted him.
Sure, Simmons has seen playing time equivalent to that of a future NFL bust. Especially after the Cardinals burned the eighth overall pick on him.
But, Simmons is also playing on a team whose defense has made a 180-degree shift from 2019 to 2020. Next to a bad first half against the Seahawks and a poor outing against the Carolina Panthers, the Cardinals defense is a borderline top ten unit.
And they also have capable inside linebackers that can keep the seat warm until they go elsewhere. Likely because of salary cap constraints. If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it.
So why is Simmons part of this list? Because he’s the kind of player coaches can insert anywhere on defense in time. Whether his natural position remains an inside linebacker, shifts to the outside as coaches did with Haason Reddick, or even moves back to safety.
Give Simmons time to adjust and perhaps learn multiple positions, and he’s the defensive equivalent of utility. And many, many of your best NFL teams have players like this either on the offensive or defensive side of the football.
And most of them don’t see a great number of snaps. You saw it with the versatile running backs that helped fuel the New England Patriots dynasty. On defense, you often see it with defensive players who can line up all over the field and play a variety of roles, regardless of their natural position.
Even if Simmons fails to live up to his status as a first-round draft pick, his versatility is valuable to the Cardinals. And that alone should keep him in a red jersey for years to come.