In today’s NFL where three receiver sets is becoming more and more of the base, defenses are craving versatile defenders. That is the case with Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons who was a starting safety as a redshirt freshman but thrived when they moved him to a stacked linebacker this past year. With Isaiah Simmons traits and experience he is an interesting prospect to keep an eye on when he enters the NFL Draft.
Isaiah Simmons vs the Run
When you think of a safety coming down to play linebacker you likely are thinking of a true in the box strong safety whose best skills are being a physical run defender. That is not Isaiah Simmons as he is an athletic safety with good range that just happens to be 6’3 and 225lbs. Using his speed, quickness and lateral agility to go sideline to sideline and chase down the running back. While Simmons is able to hold the point of attack he uses his athletic ability to stay free of blockers but also has a knack for rolling off of blocks.
For a converted safety Simmons does shows some solid instincts as he’s able to diagnose plays quickly and routinely put him around the ball. When there Simmons isn’t going to deliver big hits he does show the ability to wrap up and drag defenders to the ground.
Isaiah Simmons in Coverage
You can really see the safety in Simmons when he is in coverage as he is able to play both in zone and even cover receivers and tight ends in man coverage. In zone coverage he shows some range getting depth in the flats or over the middle and floating within his zone. When playing man coverage he may lack that top end elite speed but he is fast enough to stay with the receiver and has the ability to change direction to stick with them. Simmons is also able to use his length to make up for a lack of top end speed showing the ability to get a hand in and break up passes.
Isaiah Simmons Outlook
We’ve seen prospects similar to Simmons get drafted in the first round. Whether it’s Shaq Thompson, Alec Olgetree, Deone Bucannon or Darron Lee it’s been proven that hybrid linebackers not only can go in first round, but they can also have success in the NFL. And when you take a look at Isaiah Simmons and compare him to those players he may not be the clear better prospect but he is at the top of the list. He’s proven to be able to be a top player at both positions and had success at the highest level. His size, athletic traits and production make him a first round prospect and a player who could be a n impact player in today’s NFL. As we know, NFL defensive coordinators will love being able to have this chess piece.