Former Clemson star poised to break out in third NFL season?

Former Clemson star poised to break out in third NFL season?

Football

Former Clemson star poised to break out in third NFL season?

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Is this former Clemson star poised to break out in his third NFL season?

Pro Football Focus thinks that could be the case for Isaiah Simmons, as PFF recently ranked the former Tiger do-it-all defender and current Arizona Cardinals linebacker among the 10 biggest breakout candidates from the 2020 NFL Draft class.

Simmons, who was drafted in the first round (eighth overall) by the Cardinals in 2020, checked in at No. 9 on PFF’s list of the 10 best Year 3 breakout candidates entering the 2022 NFL season.

“Much was made of Simmons’ inability to see the field as a rookie, although to me that was overblown,” PFF’s Michael Renner wrote. “Linebacker is the single most cerebrally demanding position on a defense. To add an entire new playbook on top of an entirely new position is a gargantuan ask for a rookie. So when Simmons didn’t look like Luke Kuechly early on in his career at a position he never played in college, many people freaked out. Now is the time to put up or shut up, though. He’s had a full season of playing time to digest what opposing offenses can throw his way. Now the flashes that we see of his position-changing athleticism can become the norm. After allowing fewer than 1.0 yard per coverage snap last season, Simmons should be able to play even faster in 2022.”

In 17 games last season (17 starts), Simmons tallied 105 total tackles, four tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, four quarterback hits, four forced fumbles, seven passes defended and an interception.

Through his first two NFL seasons, Simmons has accounted for 159 total tackles, eight tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, seven quarterback hits, five forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, nine passes defended and two picks.

At Clemson, the athletic Simmons transitioned from safety in 2017 to the starting nickel/sam linebacker position in 2018 and was eventually named the Butkus Award winner as the nation’s top linebacker in 2019 in only his second year at the position. He concluded his Clemson career credited with 253 tackles (28.5 for loss), 10.5 sacks, 22 pass breakups, four interceptions (including one returned for a touchdown), five forced fumbles and a fumble recovery over 44 games (29 starts).

–Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images 

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