During ABC’s broadcast of the 2020 NFL Draft, ESPN’s “College GameDay” crew gave the Arizona Cardinals high marks for their selection of former Clemson star defender Isaiah Simmons with the No. 8 pick in the first round Thursday night.
Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, David Pollack and Rece Davis all raved about the do-it-all talent and versatility Simmons will bring to Arizona.
Simmons played all over the field on defense for the Tigers last season, seeing action at safety, slot cornerback, outside linebacker, inside linebacker and perimeter cornerback. He won the 2019 Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker and earned unanimous All-American honors after tallying 107 tackles (16.0 for loss), 8.0 sacks, 10 pass breakups, three interceptions, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
“He is obviously everything you are looking for,” Herbstreit said. “And the trend in the NFL right now, they are looking for guys like this. A guy like Derwin James, Minkah Fitzpatrick, a guy that can do a little bit of everything. That is what you want to see with the Cardinals. How will they utilize his skill set? Is he going to be lining up as a nickel? Is he a slot corner? Are they going to blitz him from the safety spot? I think you are going to see him do a lot of different things. But as offenses evolve, more and more players have the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, tight ends that can line up as receivers. You are looking for defensive backs that can play multiple positions and can do multiple things. That is exactly what Isaiah Simmons gives you.”
Many analysts pegged Ohio State defensive end Chase Young as the best defensive player in the draft, and he became the first defensive player off the board when the Washington Redskins snagged him No. 2 overall.
But if you ask Howard, Simmons was the top defensive prospect in this year’s draft.
“He was my favorite defensive player all year long,” Howard said. “I know Jesse [Palmer] said that he thinks Chase Young is the most impactful defensive player in the draft. I have to disagree. I think it is Isaiah Simmons. We just saw his versatility and what he brings to a defense. He is a guy that has played over 1,500 snaps in two seasons and only drew one penalty. He is a Swiss Army knife. He is a tremendous defensive player. Arizona got one heck of a player in Isaiah Simmons.”
Pollack loved the pick of Simmons as well, especially in the modern NFL.
“If you are rating the best safety in the draft, it is Isaiah Simmons. If you are rating the best linebacker in the draft, it is Isaiah Simmons. If you are rating the second-best pass rusher in the draft, it is Isaiah Simmons,” Pollack said. “This dude can do a little bit of everything. He just has insane versatility and nowadays where we are in the spread and everyone is fast and you have to cover those fast backs and tight ends. He can do it all.”
Davis, the host of College GameDay, called Simmons a “superhero” and says Cardinal nation should be very pleased with who their team landed with its only first-round pick.
“Cardinal fans ought to be thrilled with the arrival of a guy that looks every bit the part of a guy that looks like a superhero,” Davis said. “Isaiah Simmons was an elite track guy, somehow slipped through the cracks in recruiting. Clemson found him late. Some people did not want him because they did not know where to put him. Look at all the different positions that Isaiah Simmons took snaps. He is the only FBS player with 50 or more rushes to get to the quarterback with 1/3 of those rushes, and he can cover.”
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