Alex Rollins has delivered an excellent 13-minute film breakdown of Clemson’s defensive star, Isaiah Simmons. Please take a moment to watch. We all know most of you have time in spades right now! My thoughts are below. Please share yours in the comments section!
Rollins notes that Isaiah Simmons’ rare combination of speed and size give him nearly unlimited upside:
“Speed combined with his size gives him unlimited potential... Clemson loved to position him as a QB spy which freed him to hunt whoever had the ball, taking away the mobile part of a mobile QB... Simmons can run sideline-to-sideline in a blink.”
Obviously Clemson fans knew that, but what was especially insightful was his detailed breakdown of just how that looks in practice. At the 5:30 mark of the video above, Rollins breaks down Simmons’ interception against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. As he explains, Simmons lines up showing deep middle-third coverage behind either man or cover three zone (shown below) coverage.
After the snap, Simmons begins moving to his left. He is covering that half of the field rather than the middle third. Thanks to his speed, he can get over there in time while still disguising his coverage (i.e., starting in the middle rather than shaded to the left). Below is actual coverage responsibility that Brent Venables had set-up. Fields is fooled. Defensive Coordinator Brent Venable can only do this because of Simmons’ athleticism.
After the snap, #8 CB AJ Terrell blitzes, #19 S Tanner Muse takes away the quick throw behind Terrell, but the WR goes deep and gets behind Muse. QB Justin Fields seemingly has his man open, but Simmons is running from the middle of the field to the sideline. Fields doesn’t account for him. The pass is thrown and Simmons covers the ground so quickly he easily jumps in front of the ball for a huge game-changing interception. Simmon’s impact on Clemson’s scheme was huge. Rollins notes that “In Clemson’s system, any player from any position can blitz at will.”
As for weaknesses, there’s not much, but he highlights how a hybrid player like him needs to refine his technique at all those various positions (understandable). He also notes that he is dominant when he has a straight line to the ball-carrier, but sometimes can get caught up in traffic.
Finally - and this will brighten the day for many of you who are also Panther fans - he calls him a perfect fit for the Panthers. With a new coaching staff and a defense starting fresh following the loss of Luke Kuechly. “They could create a system around him and build from the ground up.”
It is beginning to look like Simmons may be the third defender off the board after Jeff Okudah and Chase Young of the Fiesta Bowl runner-up Buckeyes. Okudah is one of the best CBs I’ve ever watched go up against Clemson. I expect him to deserving go in the top three picks. After those two, you see a lot of mock drafts with Simmons going as high as #4 to the NY Giants where he’d play alongside Dexter Lawrence. Others show him dropping to #7 to the Panthers. It seems his floor may be #16 as the Falcons need someone for their shaky back seven. Most are projecting K’Lavon Chaisson, the great pass rushing LB from LSU, to go to Atlanta. Give us your prediction in the poll below.
Where will Isiah Simmons be taken in the NFL Draft?
This poll is closed
Top 3 pick
#4 to Giants
Pick 5 or 6
#7 to Panthers
After pick 7