One of the top overall prospects in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft, Isaiah Simmons is probably the most versatile defensive player in this class. After starting as a safety at Clemson, Simmons went on to become a consensus All-American, the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, and Butkus Award winner at linebacker in 2019. A freakish athlete, Simmons should be able to plug in right away for whichever team drafts him and have an immediate impact on the field.
Isaiah Simmons Draft Profile
Simmons is the prototype for the new defender in the increasingly positionless NFL, a safety who literally outgrew the position. He’s a rare athlete at his size, tall and long-limbed but typically one of the two or three fastest players on the field at any time. As he adjusted to linebacker, he showed the speed and uniquely impressive change-of-direction skills for his size that allowed him to line up in center field earlier in his career. He has no issues mirroring tight ends in man coverage, and he can align over the slot against a lot of receivers — he more than held his own over a handful of reps against talented wideouts. Clemson used him as a blitzer frequently and with great success. His length and balance allow him to work his way into the backfield, and his closing burst is outstanding — he could line up as a traditional edge rusher and have success. He has sideline-to-sideline range, and because of his length, his tackling radius is enormous. He was an impact player on special teams as well. He’ll earn high marks for character and leadership, captaining one of the nation’s truly elite defenses.
His take-on skills are a bit lacking — he’s much better running free in space than working his way through traffic. In the pass rush, he needs that space created for him so he can open up and get to top speed.
Simmons is an incredibly exciting talent, something of a less physical Anthony Barr who does a number of things well and can slot into any scheme. He’ll provide a lot of answers for a defensive coordinator and has an All-Pro ceiling.
Final Grade: Top-10 pick