Entering the 2020 NFL Draft, Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons was described as a “defensive player” due to his ability to efficiently play five different positions. However, it appears that Simmons’ transition from college to the pros will include a more permanent place on the defense.
In the 2019 college season alone, Simmons played cornerback, safety, inside linebacker, and outside linebacker, being a prominent part of the team that reached the National Championship game. At the end of the year, these efforts earned him both the Butkus Award and ACC Defensive Player of the Year award.
And while Simmons’ versatility ended up making him the eighth overall pick in this year’s draft by Arizona Cardinals, the team’s head coach Kliff Kingsbury intends to make him focus on just one position. According to Kingsbury, this might unlock the 21-year-old’s full potential.
“Our thought process, is if he is really able to focus on one position, having the flexibility to still move around, but really focus on one, what does that look like?,” Kingsbury told reporters during a recent conference call. “And the sky can really be the limit.”
Kingsbury didn’t reveal what will be Simmons’ primary position, but Cardinals’ defensive coordinator Vance Joseph previously said that the rookie would mainly play linebacker position. Joseph also intends to use him to defend the opponents’ tight ends.
Thanks to the fact that he played four different positions last year, Simmons generously filled the stats sheet. In the 15 games he played, he had 104 tackles, 7.0 sacks, eight pass deflections, three interceptions, and one forced fumble.