With the 2020 NFL Draft just a few weeks away, analysts have been spinning creative mockups for trades and picks. One thing many of these “what if” scenarios have in common? Star Clemson linebacker, Isaiah Simmons. So, what does the exciting young athlete have to offer? And which teams could potentially land Simmons in the draft?
A special player
Isaiah Simmons didn’t need to worry about putting on a good show at the 2020 NFL Combine, as SB Nation details. His athleticism was obvious to anyone who watched his last season with Clemson. Simmons not only earned unanimous All-American honors but he also won the Butkus Award for the country’s best college linebacker.
But he’s so much more than a linebacker.
In 2019, according to Pro Football Focus, Simmons played 738 snaps for Clemson’s defense. 106 of those snaps were on the defensive line 239 of the snaps came as a box linebacker. 130 snaps he played as a deep safety. With 256 snaps as a slot cornerback and seven as a wide cornerback, a case could be made that there’s little Simmons can’t do.
While an impressive collegiate performance doesn’t mean the same level of NFL play, Simmons may prove to be the exception to the rule.
He’s incredibly fast. Only been two linebackers have pulled off the NFL Combine’s 40-yard dash under 4.4 seconds since 2011; Simmons was one of them. The other was Shaquem Griffin. While Griffin is among the NFL’s smaller linebackers, Simmons is 6-foot-4 and 238 pounds. While he’s an average size for an NFL linebacker, he’s way faster.
Simmons made the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds. The average time for an NFL linebacker? 4.71 seconds.
Which teams could land Isaiah Simmons?
According to Sports Illustrated, the New York Giants stand a chance of gaining the top linebacker in 2020. Their offense looks good thanks to the return of several healthy players. Their defense? Not so much.
In 2019, the Giants allowed the third-most points per game with an average of 28.2. They gave up the sixth-highest completion percentage with 70.9% and the fifth most passing yards with 4,376, resulting in a 4-12 record. Now, the team’s focus is on trying to reframe an ailing roster.
If the Giants gain Simmons and his unique skill set, they could raise the standard of their entire defense. They could build that side of their team to match their powerful offense.
Another team, the Panthers, may be able to grab him with the No. 7 pick. It would certainly take Matt Rhule’s defense to a better place. Carolina needs some key defensive players considering they gave up a league-high 470 points in 2019. A dynamic player like Simmons could fill in the gaps in the defense.
The Lions have the No. 3 overall pick in the draft and they badly need to boost their secondary. With the NFL’s fourth-worst pass defense in 2019, many mockups have the Lions taking Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah. The move makes sense, especially when you factor in trading Darius Slay to the Philadelphia Eagles. But Detroit could also benefit from Simmons’ speed and arsenal of defensive talents.
Last but not least are the Cleveland Browns. It’s within the realm of possibility that the Browns could trade Kareem Hunt to make this happen. With Nick Chubb, one of the best running backs in the NFL, Simmons would be a smart acquisition.
Where will Simmons end up?
Will a fortunate NFL team pick Simmons to become one of the league’s fastest linebackers? Or will a team select him as a great safety? Although odds are greater that he’ll be drafted as a linebacker, either is possible and there’s really no wrong answer.
No matter where Simmons ends up, he’ll head for the line of scrimmage and wreak havoc in the backfield each game. For fans, it’ll be highly entertaining to watch.