Isaiah Simmons - Linebacker/Safety
The new version of the Cardinals front office already made a statement of sorts when they declined the fifth-year option on versatile defender Isaiah Simmons' rookie contract earlier this month. While talented, the 2020 first-round selection has never quite carved out a niche for himself during his three professional campaigns. That in no way means that Gannon and defensive coordinator Nick Rallis won't do everything thing they can to get the best out of the ultra-talented Simmons this coming season.
Simmons has endured a ton of unfair criticism since he joined the Cards three years ago. Despite being moved around like a chess piece by the former coaching staff, the 6 foot 4, 238 pounder racked up 99 tackles, four sacks, two interceptions (one pick-six) and seven pass breakups in his 17 appearances (13 starts) last fall. In 2021, Simmons was credited with 105 tackles, a pick, seven passes defensed and four forced fumbles in 17 starts for the Arizona defense.
Those type of numbers are blatant proof that Simmons is more than qualified to excel at the professional level. Maybe Rallis will find a permanent home in his scheme for the 24-year-old that will allow Simmons to tally even more impressive statistics in 2023. If he does, Ossenfort and the Cardinals could realize that passing on the former Clemson University product's option-year may have been a huge mistake.