Three months ago, former top draft choice Isaiah Simmons was sent a message from the Arizona Cardinals that was loud and clear. The club's front office, led by first-year general manager Monti Ossenfort, announced that the organization was declining the fifth-year option on the versatile defender's rookie contract. It was a practical decision by management, likely based on the fact that Simmons has never quite lived up to the expectations that come with being the 2020 NFL Draft's eighth-overall pick.
Simmons, in effect, will be playing this coming fall to land a lucrative new deal in 2024. Whether the 25-year-old will be back in Arizona past this season has yet to be determined. Based on Simmons' horriffic performance this past weekend, it seems more than likely that the fourth-year pro will be playing elsewhere next year.
The Cards' first-year coaching staff, along with Simmons, decided during the current offseason that the former Clemson University product should be a full-time safety. His dreadful play this past Saturday night during the squad's 38-10 preseason loss to the Kansas City Chiefs would suggest otherwise. If the latest experiment with Simmons fails, it would not be surprising in the least to see Ossenfort and company cut ties with someone who was acquired by the last regime.
It's somewhat gut-wrenching when you take a look at the prospects that were chosen just a few slots after Simmons during that draft from three years ago. The 6 foot 4, 237 pounder hasn't been a complete failure, but there are certainly individuals who the Cardinals would've been a whole lot better off with.
Arizona Cardinals passed on some top-notch talent when they drafted Isaiah Simmons three years ago
Just two picks after Arizona grabbed Simmons, the Cleveland Browns added left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. with the 10th-overall selection. The former University of Alabama stud has been everything the "Dawg Pound" could've dreamed of and more. Wills has been outstanding as both a run and pass blocker, and has 45 starts for the Browns on his professional resume.
At #13 overall, five slots after Simmons was nabbed by "Big Red", the Tampa Bay Buccaneers struck it rich with the fourth offensive tackle off of the board. Tristan Wirfs, a magnificent blocker out of the University of Iowa, was selected to the Pro Bowl following both the 2021 and 2022 campaigns. Over the past three seasons, the 6 foot 5, 320 pounder has been credited with 46 starts for the Buccaneers franchise.
Three picks later, another Clemson University defender became an opening-round pick. AJ Terrell, a 6 foot 1,195 pound cornerback, went to the Atlanta Falcons with the 16th overall selection. In 44 career starts, the 24-year-old has racked up 202 tackles, four interceptions and an impressive 32 pass breakups for the Falcons defense.
Last but not least is CeeDee Lamb, the wide receiver who Cards quarterback Kyler Murray was absolutely clamoring for in the weeks leading up to the '20 draft. As it turned out, the Dallas Cowboys ended up getting one heck of a bargain at #17 overall with the University of Oklahoma wideout. In his 49 appearances (44 starts), Lamb has hauled in 260 passes for 3,396 yards and 20 touchdowns, and has also contributed 205 yards and another score on the ground for the Dallas scoring attack.
(Statistics provided by Pro Football Reference)