Isaiah Simmons told the media at Thursday’s NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis that he is like a Swiss Army Knife, there isn’t anything he can’t do.
He is right.
At Clemson, Simmons lined up and played at almost every position but nose tackle, while leading the Tigers back to the national championship game for the fourth time in five years this past season. The All-American, who is listed as a linebacker and strong safety at the combine, played the SAM and nickel positions in Brent Venables’ schemes.
“Just move me around because then I can really show you what I am able to do,” he said. “I was never really tied down to one position. Coach Venables, he used me in a really special way that most people are not able to be used.”
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said after practice Wednesday night that Simmons is a guy you don’t replace. There are not many players like him. He said Simmons has allowed the Tigers the comfort of staying with three linebackers on the field at all times because he could play the nickel so well.
Simmons said playing in Venables’ scheme is what will have him ready to play for any NFL defense.
“I believe that anyone who can play defense for him, can play defense anywhere just by how complex it is and the demand he puts on all of us,” Simmons said. “Honestly, he just prepares all of us for moments like this.”
Simmons feels playing in Venables’ scheme and lining up everywhere on the field like he did will benefit him in the NFL.
“I know years ago, it wasn’t good to be a position-less guy, but now it has become a benefit for me, just on all the versatility and things I will be able to do … play linebacker, play safety, whatever it is,” he said. “I figure it just helps me.”
Simmons is sure to continue wow NFL general managers and coaches at the NFL Scouting Combine over the next few days. It would not be surprising to see him move into the top 5 of the draft before it is all said and done.
The former Clemson linebacker is one of those guys who can do it all. He is big enough to play linebacker and fill in the run fits. He is fast enough to cover sideline to sideline and cover wide receivers in the slot, tight ends or running backs out of the backfield. He is intelligent enough to play both safety positions and he moves hips well enough that he can go out wide and cover wide receivers if need be.
Simmons can even put his hands on the ground and play defensive end if a team needs him to. That’s what makes Clemson’s unanimous All-American so intriguing in this year’s draft.
He finished the 2019 season with a team-best 107 tackles. He had 16 tackles for loss, including eight sacks. Both led the Clemson team. He also tied for the team lead with 10 passes broken up and was second with three interceptions.
At season’s end, Simmons was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, a unanimous First-Team All-American and the winner of the Dick Butkus Award, which goes to the nation’s top linebacker.
“I think I can play at any scheme just because of my versatility. I can fit in anywhere,” he said. “Depending on what position they need me at, I feel like I can play it.”
Simmons will perform his on-field workouts at the combine on Saturday when he works out with the rest of the linebackers.
A great gift for any Clemson fan. Just one of many great items available from Clemson Variety & Frame