Isaiah Simmons is ‘Swiss Army Knife’ of Cardinals defense

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Isaiah Simmons
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Isaiah Simmons /

Up and coming superstar Isaiah Simmons has taken on an assortment of roles for the defensive unit of the Arizona Cardinals.

When the Arizona Cardinals used the eighth overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft on Isaiah Simmons, the organization knew they were acquiring a special player.

As the superstar of the Clemson University defensive unit, Simmons had been utilized at a variety of positions. The fact that the Tigers had used the youngster at linebacker, defensive end, cornerback, and safety made Simmons a much more attractive commodity to the professional teams who scouted him.

With that type of resume, it came as no surprise when Cards defensive coordinator Vance Joseph also elected to take advantage of Simmons’ versatility. Not surprisingly, the results have been outstanding.

In 13 starts this season, Simmons has racked up 82 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles for the Cardinals. The 6-foot-4, 238-pounder has also flashed his skills as a pass-defender, totaling five pass breakups and an interception from his inside linebacker position.

Arizona Cardinals defensive unit placed a lot on the plate of Isaiah Simmons

When Simmons arrived a year ago, the rookie was handed a crash course in defensive football 101. Arizona placed an inside linebacker label on the talented defender when he came to the desert, but Joseph wanted to teach Simmons a whole lot more.

As the offseason program rolled along, Simmons was asked to be fluent in six different areas of the Redbirds defense. Included on the first-year performer’s plate were both inside linebacker spots (MIKE and MO), the SAM outside linebacker post, both free and strong safety positions, and the nickel as well. Cards linebackers coach Bill Davis witnessed firsthand the confusion that Simmons’ flexibility caused for opposing offenses.

"“He’s a Swiss Army knife. It is very, very frustrating for an offense to see Isaiah out there and not be able to identify his position. He has proven, especially at the end of last season, that he absolutely can handle multiple positions.”"

The 23-year-old Simmons is gradually transforming himself into one of the NFL’s brightest young stars. Fortunately, the Cardinals franchise and their fans will have a front-row seat to see it happen.

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