The Arizona Cardinals 8th overall drafted Isaiah Simmons in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Will they utilize Simmons to be Arizona’s first “Defensive flex” player?
He was labeled a player that could play all over the field from linebacker to safety to slot corner his junior year; he logged 100+ snaps at five different positions. Simmons’s final season at Clemson was one to behold as he racked up 104 tackles, 16 TFL, eight sacks, two FF and one FR, eight passes defended, and three interceptions.
Simmons’s versatility was the thing that made his draft hype skyrocket through the roof. A 6’4″, 238-pound athletic, versatile player who could be something the NFL had never seen. Since arriving in Arizona, Simmons has yet to put up the stats from his junior season at Clemson.
Simmons hasn’t been used to his versatile abilities or been great at his ILB role. This culminated in seeing only 19 snaps in the Wild Card game against the Rams.
Simmons has been used very well as a great spy, but when you’re the eighth overall pick with the ability to play just about every position, more is expected.
The good news for Simmons is that the Cardinals had him work out with the defensive backs in minicamp and the weeks before training camp.
I am expecting Simmons to still play ILB, primarily still mainly with the loss of Jordan Hicks. However, I expect Vance Joseph to use him all over, from safety in specific packages to rushing off the edge.
One of 2022’s trends shows that safeties and linebackers are almost hand in hand as you see guys like Jamal Adams and Derwin James, and you even have seen Landon Collins transition to playing LB.
I think this could very well be the season Simmons breaks out, and the Cardinals will need him to step up on a very young Arizona Cardinals defense.