Dabo Swinney says Isaiah Simmons dispels the notion there are no unicorns. The former Clemson linebacker can do almost anything.
This past season, the Tigers lined Simmons up at five different positions – SAM linebacker, outside linebacker, nickel back, strong safety and free safety. He just did not play the positions for one or two snaps either. Simmons took more than 100 snaps from each position, firmly cementing Swinney’s claim that he is a true unicorn.
“He is just so unique,” the Clemson head coach said. “Everybody plays sub-packages. It is just a different game. You almost start your installation in sub-package because most people are 11-personnel [one running back, one tight end]. So, you used to, with a tweener, ‘What do you do with a tweener?’ Now, everybody is looking for the tweener. That guy who can really be a sub-package type guy and do everything you need to do.
“But Isaiah is kind of another level to that, [Tanner] Muse would be that true tweener. Isaiah is like, just decide where you want to put him, and he will be great at that … I have not had a guy like him. There are guys who can do aspects of his game, but not all of that with the size and the speed that he has.”
Simmons showed off his unique talents at the NFL Combine last month and then again on Thursday when Clemson hosted its annual Pro Day at the Poe Indoor Practice Facility in Clemson. Simmons finished his combined workouts with impressive numbers, including an official 4.35 in the 40-yard dash. He also had a 1.51 in the 10-yard shuttle and a 2.49 in the 20-yard shuttle. He recorded a 39-inch vertical jump and an 11-foot broad jump.
On the football field, Simmons displays his unique abilities everywhere. He led the Tigers this past season with 107 tackles, including 16 tackles for loss. Of those 16 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, 8.5 were sacks. He also broke up 10 passes, had 15 quarterback pressures, had three interceptions and forced one fumble.
For his talents, he won the Dick Butkus Award as the nation’s best linebacker, the ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year, and was named a unanimous First-Team All-American. Many draft experts believe Simmons is a top three prospect in this year’s 2020 NFL Draft and will be selected somewhere in the top 5 or top 10 in April’s NFL Draft.
“I would say the thing with Isaiah is that you are getting a first-round pick. He is like getting three guys with one pick. He is like getting three first-rounders,” Swinney said. “You are just getting a lot of value. Sometimes, you can take a guy and he is just a specific need. That is what he does. This is what he plays. But with Isaiah, he is multiple roster spots all rolled up into one. I think that is pretty unique.”
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