Cards Select Clemson “Unicorn” LB Isaiah Simmons

Arizona Sports News online

(AP Photo/Chris Seward)

The Arizona Cardinals had plenty of options on the clock with the eighth overall pick Thursday evening but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to select one of the most versatile defenders and best overall athletes in the 2020 NFL draft in Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons.

With the Cards trading for Pro Bowl wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins last month and addressing other need areas in free agency, many believed General Manager Steve Keim would opt for offensive line help early in the draft but the intrigue around Simmons was just too good to pass up.

The 6-foot-4, 238-pound Simmons, an under-the-radar recruit of Dabo Sweeney from Olathe, Kansas is a prototypical four-down player who will give Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph flexibility to move around given the down and distance.

“Isaiah Simmons is as advertised,” Swinney said in a statement through the Cardinals. “He’s a graduate and incredibly smart from a football standpoint. He played five positions and clearly wanted to execute at different positions for us, which demonstrates his knowledge and diversity. But he’s a unicorn. You don’t find guys like him that can play safety, that can cover, that can blitz like a defensive end and that can play linebacker. The biggest thing I can say about Isaiah is if you get 53 men on the roster, he’s like getting 56.”

Coincidentally, Simmons had a key interception in the Tigers comeback win over Ohio State in College Football Playoff semi-final at State Farm Stadium in Glendale.

A Valley native, Eric has had a passion for the Arizona sports scene since an early age. He has covered some of the biggest events including Super Bowls, national championships and the NBA and MLB playoffs in his near 20 years in local media.