2020 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Clemson SAF/LB Isaiah Simmons

HEIGHT: 6-4 / WEIGHT: 238 / COLLEGE: Clemson / CLASS: Redshirt Junior

2019 STATS (15 GAMES): 104 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, 8 sacks, 3 interceptions, 8 passes defended, 2 forced fumbles

CAREER STATS (44 GAMES): 238 tackles, 28.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, 4 interceptions, 20 passes defended, 6 forced fumbles

GAMES WATCHED (7): Ohio State, South Carolina, Georgia Tech, Virginia, LSU (2019); Notre Dame, Texas A&M (2018)

40 BENCH VERT BROAD 3 CONE 20S 60S
4.39 39″ 132″

COVERAGE ABILITY (19/20)

  • Excellent in man coverage — capable of shadowing tight ends, running backs and slot receivers on routes to any level of the field
  • Shuts down throwing windows in a hurry as a shallow zone coverage defender
  • Doesn’t have a ton of experience as a two-high or single-high safety, but he’s shown good play recognition from deeper alignments, and he has the range and coverage ability to thrive there

MENTAL PROCESSING (18/20)

  • Good coverage instincts — digests route combinations quickly and reacts accordingly
  • Can be slow to find the football on run plays when he’s lined up at linebacker
  • Can occasionally lose track of receivers in zone coverage when eyes become fixated on the quarterback
  • Quick to key-and-diagnose plays from safety alignment
  • Has a good feel for zone coverage spacing

SPEED/RANGE (15/15)

  • Elite sideline-to-sideline to range and closing speed
  • Can operate as a single-high safety in some capacity
  • Great as a QB spy

TECHNIQUE/AGILITY (13.5/15)

  • Fluid athlete with smooth change-of-direction movement
  • Efficient backpedal

RUN DEFENSE (8/10)

  • Good tackler with massive tackle radius
  • Makes a ton of plays as a backside run defender
  • Does well with containing outside runs
  • Dances around blocks at times instead of taking them on
  • Inconsistent with stack-and-shed ability
  • Takes some challenging downhill pursuit angles when defending run plays/short passes as a linebacker
  • Generally takes good pursuit angles from safety and slot cornerback alignments

BALL SKILLS/PLAYMAKING (9/10)

  • Good ball skills for a safety, and especially, a linebacker (3 interceptions and 8 pass breakups in 2019)
  • Typically gets head around early to make plays on downfield throws
  • Great at disrupting the catch point thanks to length, technique and closing speed

BLITZ (5/5)

  • Excellent pass rusher (had 8 sacks in 2019 as a jack-of-all-trades back-seven defensive player!)
  • Wreaks havoc in the backfield as an unblocked defender off the edge
  • Reduces surface area wonderfully on outside rushes thanks to impressive lower-half flexibility and finishes sacks consistently when he gets his hands on the quarterback
  • Can easily redirect off a mesh-point fake to chase down a scrambling quarterback after initially crashing on the running back

SIZE/PHYSICAL TRAITS (5/5)

  • Huge for a safety and has the size to play full-time linebacker (6-4, 238 lbs.)
  • Excellent length for block-shedding and pass defense (33 3/8″ arms)

OVERALL GRADE: 92.50/100.00 — ELITE — Perennial Pro Bowler with All-Pro potential

NFL COMPARISON: Bigger, faster Derwin James

SCHEME FIT: Scheme-versatile. Has the physical capability to play nearly every position in the back-seven of a defense in some capacity, but profiles as a safety or linebacker for his primary position. Strong safety may be his best fit because it lets him take advantage of his best skills (man coverage, blitzing and perimeter run defense) most frequently, and it’s easier to move him around and take advantage of his versatility from a deeper alignment.

DRAFT PROJECTION: Top-10 pick

Isaiah Simmons’s primary position should be strong safety. His most valuable, and arguably best skill, is man coverage. His other top skills are rushing the passer, run blitzing and being a sure tackler. Strong safety allows him to utilize his most valuable skill more often than linebacker would, although I agree that he has the physical capability to play inside or outside linebacker.

Ideally, he’ll be moved around depending on matchups a la Derwin James. I think he’s an ideal two-high and box strong safety, but he can easily drop down into the slot to cover a receiver or tight end. He can also be used as a dime linebacker if you want to get an extra safety on the field without sacrificing much in run defense.

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