The Arizona Cardinals have not even had Isaiah Simmons for one month and they are already changing things up.
The Cardinals took Simmons with the No. 8 overall pick in the NFL Draft last month, primarily for his ability to play multiple positions and to do it well. Now they are starting to backpedal from that thought process.
Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury told reporters on Monday, according to an article on ESPN, they want the Tigers’ All-American to focus on just one position.
“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 said. “And the sky can really be the limit.”
However, Simmons did not become the ACC Defensive Player of the Year at Clemson by playing one position. Simmons played more than 100 snaps at four different positions for Brent Venables’ defense, which helped the Tigers finish the year third in the country in scoring defense, fourth in passing defense and sixth in total defense.
In 2019, according to ESPN Stats & Info, Simmons played 286 snaps at slot corner, 218 at safety, 160 at outside linebacker, 120 at inside linebacker and 17 on the perimeter.
“That’s why we were so excited about him. The athleticism is through the roof,” Kingsbury said. “But his ability to play different positions and not really have any chance to focus on one, we just think the sky can be the limit for what he could be if we really lock him into one position the majority of the time.”
Kingsbury’s comments go against what his defensive coordinator said last month after the Cardinals took Simmons in the first-round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Vance Joseph told the media last month Simmons will be a linebacker in the Cardinals’ 3-4 scheme, which makes sense considering the rookie’s 6-foot-4, 238-pound frame. However, he also plans to use him in a lot of the same capacities Venables’ did this past year at Clemson.
“He’s a guy who can solve problems for us, and with his speed, he can be an eraser when bad plays happen,” Joseph said.
Joseph said he was not sure if there are parts to Simmons’ game that will translate to the NFL or not. However, they are not going to hold him back. They plan to put him in positions so they can see what he can do.
“With this kid’s skillset, he can do a lot of things,” Joseph said. “Until we touch it, until we game plan, I can’t guarantee where he is going to be.
“If it’s a job that we think he can do, we will put him out there. That’s why he was drafted. I want Isaiah to be Isaiah.”
Or do they?
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